(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Secret memoirs of the Court of Berlin : or the character of the king of Prussia, his ministers, mistresses, generals, courtiers, favourites, and the royal family of Prussia"

SECRET COURT MEMOIRS 
THE COURT OF BERLIN 



Secret Memoirs of the Court 
of Berlin or the Chara^er of 
the King of Prussia, his Ministers, 
^Mistresses, Generals, Courtiers, 
Favourites, and the T{oyal Family 
of Prussia, hy Count zMirabeau 




IN TIVO VOLUMES 
VOLUME I 



PRINTED BY 

Ube Grolier Societv 

LONDON 



Limited to five hundred copies 
U^o 42:^ 



CONTENTS OF VOL. I. 



PAGK 

JEditor's Preface to " The Secret History of the Court of 

Berlin," and to the " Key " of that History . . xi 

r£TT£B 

I. .29 

II 33 

III 35 

IV 47 

V 63 

VI 68 

VII 71 

Vin 76 

IX 78 

X 81 

XI 83 

Xn 84 

Xin. . 85 

XIV 93 

XV 100 

XVI 104 

XVII Ill 

XVIII 116 

XIX 122 

XX 126 

XXI 131 

XXn 142 



viii CONTENTS 

LETTER PAGB 

XXIIL 152 

XXIV. 157 

XXV 160 

XXVI 163 

XXVII 171 

XXVIII 178 

XXIX 182 

XXX 186 

XXXI 200 

XXXII 209 

XXXm 218 

XXXIV . 222 

XXXV 231 

XXXVI. 242 

XXXVII 253 

XXXVni 264 

XXXIX. 271 

XL 281 

XLI. . 288 

XLH. 294 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Vol. I. 

PAGE 

Mademoiselle Voss Frontispiece 

" She made him sit down " 146 

Joseph II 176 

Potsdam 226 

MiRABEAU 264 



EDITOR'S PREFACE 

To " The Secret History of the Court of Berlin," and to the 
"Key" of that History. 

MiRABEAu, exiled to Prussia on a secret mission, has left 
behind him, in the following work, a curious account of his 
sojourn at the Court of Frederick the Great. It is generally 
supposed that these letters were addressed to Calonne. 

The last moments of Frederick are therein depicted in a 
vivid and lifelike manner, and every portrait that Mirabeau 
essayed to paint bears the mark of a master's hand. How- 
ever, Frederick dies, and the writer has no longer anything 
but low intrigues to depict, as he is now surrounded only by 
little men and little interests. 

If he is reproached with including in this work several 
scandalous revelations, it must be remembered that " The 
Secret History" was never intended to see the light of day, 
and that it was quite contrary to the author's wishes that 
it was published. It was also in direct opposition to his 
wishes that the " Lettres a Sophie" and others of his produc- 
tions, were issued. 

The manuscript of " The Secret History " was stolen, sold 
to Malassis, a printer of Alengon, and published by him as a 
work by an unknown traveller who had died about a year 
previously in a village in Germany. Twenty thousand copies 
of the book were speedily disposed of. 

The original manuscript, in Mirabeau's handwriting, re- 
mained in the printer's possession, and great care was taken 



xii SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

that, in every edition issued by him, all the names and 
certain passages were suppressed and indicated by asterisks 
only. Unfortunately, the manuscript was subsequently burnt. 
M. Dubois-du-Desert, who had the privilege of inspecting this 
manuscript before its destruction, has communicated to us aU 
the names, of which he had taken a note. This it is that is 
known as the " Key " to " The Secret History." A very small 
number of the names have been lost, and it is impossible for 
us, after this long interval, to repair these omissions. 

The following are some appropriate reflections included in 
the Preface, written by M. Brissot-Thivars, for the edition 
of 1821 : 

" The ministerial modesty, which so easily reconciled itself 
to the secret picture of the licentiousness of a neighbouring 
Court, grew much alarmed at the prospect of a similar 
picture of their own Court being exhibited to the public 
gaze. The Government received orders to confiscate the 
book, and to prosecute the author, who had disappeared 
under an anonymous name. Meanwhile the public were 
much rejoiced at the ill -humour displayed by the Court. 

" The Etats-Generaux were convoked, the nobility repulsed 
Mirabeau, the Commons welcomed him with open arms, 
and the privileged classes heaped insults and abuse upon 
the author of 'The Secret History.'" 

Amongst the most noticeable pamphlets issued at this 
period, was one entitled " L ' Examen politique et critique de 
V Histoire secrete de la Cour de Berlin, par Frederic, Baron de 
Trench. * 

" The Baron de Trenck was a Prussian, and had, therefore, 

* " Political and Critical Examination of the Secret History of the 
Court of Berlin," by Fr6d6ric, Baron de Trenck. A thick 8vo volume. 
The Baron de Trenck was known by his misfortunes and by his sundry 
writings. 



EDITOR'S PREFACE. xiii 

some right to enter the lists. It was also to his interest to 
do so, as for some time he had been in bad odour with 
his Government, and he was only too rejoiced to purchase 
his pardon by breaking a lance in honour of his country. 

"IVlirabeau pretends that the Prussians are a dull people. 
The Baron de Trenck admits that this is the case ; but, he 
adds, they are so systematically. 

"Mirabeau hints that the two sons of Prince Ferdinand 
are reaUy the sons of the Comte de Schmettau. The Baron 
de Trenck replies that he has closely examined the children 
of Princess Ferdinand. ' They are,' he says, ' destined to 
occupy glorious positions in the House of Brandenburg. I 
would never guarantee,' he adds, 'the birth of any man; 
all that I can certify is that he is the son of a man. It 
is to be hoped that, in certain European royal families, 
they wiU act as they do in England towards the race-horses. 
It is unnecessary and absurd to try and discover who are the 
fathers of the kings who rule over us. It is often much 
better that they owe their existence to wise and vigorous 
plebeians than to a self - styled " noble " race, which is in 
no way superior to others, save by an opinion based upon 
absurd prejudices. I heartily congratulate Prince Ferdinand 
on being the head of so interesting a family.' 

"Mirabeau, having related some amorous scenes of Fred- 
erick William, the Baron gravely examines the two following 
questions : 

"1. Is it true that the King of Prussia is fond of women? 
Nobody doubts it. 

" 2. Is this a crime in a King ? William, in love, is 
capable of a tender attachment. He understands how to 
value his mistress. Refined and sensitive, it is by the 
personal interest that he inspires, that he endeavours to 
find favour in the eyes of the woman he loves. He puts 



xiv SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

aside all rank and power. It is solely for himself that he 
would win the lady's affection. Mademoiselle de Voss re- 
sisted his wooing during twenty months. The tardy grati- 
fication of his desires did not cool his passion. In the 
present condition of Prussia, the King may prefer the myrtles 
of Cupid to the laurels of Mars. 

"Did the reputation of Baron de Trenck re-establish 
Frederick "William and the Prince Ferdinand — the one in 
his paternal rights, and the other in the respect and ven- 
eration which a virtuous monarch has the right to expect 
from his subjects? We do not think it did. It appears 
to us, on the contrary, that it will remain proved that 
Mirabeau had correctly observed, and that he stated the 
truth, since his adversary is reduced to representing concu- 
binage and adultery as the accustomed pastime of the nobil- 
ity and as the legitimate resource of a monarch. Mirabeau's 
statements, therefore, must have been based largely on facts, 
since there did not exist any other means of extenuating the 
scandal. 

" In the absence of logic and reason. Baron de Trenck had 
recourse to abuse of Mirabeau, whom he vilified as an impos- 
tor and a spy. Such insults, however, proved nothing; and, 
even at the present time, there are those who firmly believe 
in the truth of Mirabeau's assertions. * 

" At the date of the publication of < The Secret History,' 
time had strongly confirmed nearly all of Mirabeau's predic- 
tions — the invasion of Holland, the ridiculous combinations 
of the French Cabinet, etc., at the present day — after a lapse 
of thirty years. Some personages who are still living are 

* In all matters apart from the Prussian monarchy, or Ministry, and 
any facts relating to either, Baron de Trenck renders full justice to 
Mirabeau ; he even admits the accuracy of Mirabeau's estimate of politi- 
cal affairs, and of his profound knowledge of the actual state of Europe. 



EDITOR'S PREFACE. xv 

attacked; for instance, he says, on page 176, 'The Duke of 
York arrived here this evening. This Duke is a great sports- 
man, fond of laughter, but without grace, deportment, or 
politeness; and, judging from external appearances, he pos- 
sesses many of the moral and physical featmes of the Due de 
Luynes. I do not think that there is any question of his 
marriage with Princess Caroline of Brunswick, who is very 
amiable, intellectual, handsome, and vivacious.'" 

The Princess Caroline, who was married in 1759 to the 
Prince of Wales, was divorced after he had become King of 
England. 

"It must be admitted, however, that Mirabeau was some- 
times mistaken in his judgments. He judged mankind ; and, 
for good or for evil, the human species is subject to varia- 
tions. Time and education modify the character, and alter 
the inclinations. The horoscope that Mirabeau cast of the 
Prince Royal of Prussia, the present reigning monarch, was 
it realised? Did that Prince resuscitate the great Frederick?" 

Mirabeau recommends 1' Abb6 de P^rigord to M. de 
Calonne. "L'Abb6 de P^rigord," he says, "combines a 
talent of a rare order and great experience with a profound 
circumspection and an unfailing secrecy. It would be 
impossible for you to choose a man who is more anxious 
to do good, and who would be more eager to show his 
gratitude." Prince de Talleyrand, before the Revolution, 
bore the name of V Abbe de Perigord. 

Amongst the curious facts relating to this work, we should 
not omit to give a copy of the Decree ordering it to be burnt. 
"We reproduce this document as an example of the juris- 
prudence of the period. 

" Decree of the Court of Parliament, the Chambers assem- 
bled, the Peers being present, condemning a printed book 



xvi SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

entitled : ' The Secret History of the Court of Berlin ; or, the 
Correspondence of a French Traveller ' (Comte de Mirabeau, 
Depute de la Se'ne'chausse'e d' Aix aux Etats- Ge'neraux'), to be 
torn and burnt by the Public Executioner." 

Extract from the Parliamentary Register of the 10th of 
February, 1789. 

« This day the Court, the Chambers assembled, the Peers 
being present, and the King's representatives being admitted, 
M. Antoine Louis Siguier, Advocate to the King, opened the 
proceedings in the following words : 

" ' Gentlemen, — Justly indignant at the impression pro- 
duced by a libel as surprising as it is atrocious, the King, 
in placing in our hands the two printed works which we have 
brought before you, relies upon the vigilance of the Ministry 
to denounce and condemn them. 

" ' This libel, which has spread itself throughout the 
Capital, has already caused the greatest sensation. It has 
been received with a cry of indignation, the public verdict 
has been given, and this work of darkness has already been 
stamped with the seal of universal reprobation. 

" ' It is within the rights of Justice to proscribe, with 
the strongest qualifications, a correspondence which the 
author seeks to disown by announcing it as the secret agent 
of a Minister who wishes to remain unknown. In denounc- 
ing this clandestine work, therefore, we propose to proceed 
against both the author and the printer, if it is possible 
to discover them. 

"'You will doubtless feel some surprise that our Minis- 
try, so long a dumb recipient of the complaints addressed 
to it by all the Orders of the State, was not to be awakened 
out of its voluntary inaction, excepting by the command 
of the King himself. But at this critical moment, when 



EDITOR'S PREFACE. xvii 

every day sees some fresh production, alternately extravagant 
and wise, violent and moderate, circumspect and licentious, 
dictated by party spirit and inspired by patriotism ; in this 
universal madness, when the indefinite liberty of the Press 
distributes with equal profusion the fruits of knowledge, 
of ignorance, and of frenzy; in this total inversion of 
principles, it required nothing less than an order emanating 
from the Throne to decide us to fulfil those functions which 
would be indispensable under all other circumstances, but 
which it seemed to us prudent to suspend, in the midst 
of the fanaticism of opinions. There are moments when, 
by a kind of public discretion, or decency, the magistrate 
should not consult the oracle of the Law. 

"'There is no need for dissimulation on our part, and 
we regard with an unfeeling eye the product of resentment 
and vengeance. The past is a guarantee for the futiire. We 
have no fear in making this avowal in the presence of 
magistrates who, whilst demanding the legitimate liberty 
of the Press, are very far from countenancing the publication 
of the deluge of anonymous sheets, and the seditious and 
scandalous pamphlets, with which France is inundated. 
Tolerance degenerates into abuse, impunity encourages 
license, and license has reached its last stage. Nothing is 
respected; rank, position, services rendered are forgotten; 
the nobles, and even crowned heads themselves, become 
objects of derision and satire. The evil is so widespread 
that one fears to augment the epidemic in attempting to 
stay its progress. 

" ' The slightest prohibition of a work is sufficient to make 
the author celebrated, to accelerate its sale, at double the 
original price, and to give a wider publicity to imposture 
and calumny. 

" ' The work which we are now denouncing was not written 



xviii SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

with the intention of still further fertilising the germs of 
discord which are already too much scattered throughout the 
Kingdom, but it is of a nature likely to influence the 
reception, and the mode of existence, of the French nobility 
at foreign Courts ; and far from confirming the high opinion 
which it has always gained for its generosity, far from 
being characterised by that frank and loyal spirit of ancient 
chivalry, which led it on to honour and glory, this vile and 
infamous production cannot but inspire the strongest prej- 
udice against a people at once polite, natural, complaisant, 
and quick to familiarise itself wherever it finds an opportu- 
nity of displaying its wit, or of captivating hearts by the 
charm of that sociability which distinguishes it from the 
other European nations. 

" ' This work, in two volumes, is entitled : " The Secret 
History of the Court of Berlin ; or. Correspondence of a 
French Traveller, from the month of July, 1786, until 
the 19th January, 1787. Posthumous work, 1789;" without 
the names of either author or printer, nor the place where 
printed. 

" ' This title would seem to indicate that the author was 
no longer in existence, and that the work was therefore 
published without his knowledge or consent; but supposing, 
as the title-page states, that the Secret History is the result of 
observations made by a writer who had ceased to exist, if it 
has taken two entire years to print and distribute a work 
of this nature, is it not obvious that the publisher is even 
more culpable than the author, since he has given publicity 
to a correspondence written under the seal of confidence, and 
which, therefore, was never intended to become a means of 
defamation, or to supply food for the scandal-mongers ? 

" ' The period at which this Secret History commences will 
be forever memorable in the annals of Germany. The short 



EDITOR'S PREFACE. xix 

space of time which it includes was full of events likely 
to affect the policy of many a monarchy. Frederick 11., 
whose name alone was sufficient to preserve that balance 
of power which assured to Europe general peace and happi- 
ness, Frederick stni reigned ; but this Prince was fast declin- 
ing, and his power and fame, which did not abandon him 
during life, seemed to await him even at the tomb. 

" < It was at this moment that the self - styled " Voyageur 
franfais " endeavoured to ingratiate himself with the greatest 
personages of the State, in order to gather any stray scraps 
of conversation, and to endeavour, in the midst of the trouble 
and commotion caused by the unforeseen changes of a new 
ruler, to surprise ministerial secrets, to detect the aims 
and ambitions of the nobles, to expose the intrigues of 
courtesans, and to fathom the plots of the Court. 

" ' If one is to believe this disguised observer, his ability 
surmounts all obstacles. He is at once welcomed, and, 
far from being suspected, he seems to have obtained almost 
general confidence. Princes treat him vsdth kindness; the 
Ministers put him in possession of State secrets ; the nobles 
admit him into their society ; the political veil is rent asunder 
for his benefit; Frederick dies, Frederick William succeeds 
him; the army has not yet taken the oath of allegiance, 
and yet this attentive politician is aware of the spirit, the 
character, and the resources of those in authority. The plan 
of administration is no longer a mystery, and even the King 
himself, who suspects his mission, does not take offence 
at his assiduity or his liaisons. 

" ' After having explained the system upon which the 
correspondence would be based; after having explained the 
sources from which he proposes to draw his information ; 
in fact, after having exposed his relations and his intimacy 
with the principal members of the Royal Family, the fiist 



XX SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

object with which the author has thought it his duty to 
concern himself is the panegyric on the King which Prussia 
has just lost. He eulogizes that great man, and he is nearly 
the only person of whom he speaks highly, or even of whom 
he does not speak ill, in a Secret History which has no other 
authenticity than that of the observations, estimates, and 
the combinations, true or false, of a writer who possessed 
neither title nor qualification. 

" ' And how was it that he did not render to Frederick H. 
the justice that was his due ? Worthy of the admiration 
of his century, our soldiers were sent to be instructed in 
his schools, to study his manoeuvres and his evolutions, and, 
above all, his military discipline, in the hope of transferring 
to France some portion of that genius which had founded 
a new school of tactics, and which had, in some sort, revolu- 
tionised the art of war. Amid the homage which truth 
sometimes forces from this mysterious correspondent, one 
discovers reproaches against the memory of the greatest man 
in Europe; but, notwithstanding this critical observer and 
his remarks, his reflections and his criticisms, Frederick, 
the friend of science and the protector of literature, legislator 
and philosopher, profound politician and indefatigable war- 
rior, combined in his person, and displayed on his throne, 
all the gifts of a hero and a King. His name, even before 
his death, was inscribed in the temple of Immortality. 

" ' Why did not the author of this correspondence show 
the same respect for a Prince of the same blood, animated 
by the same spirit, and endowed with the same talents? 
Did not Prince Henry prove himself to be a general worthy 
of commanding his august brother, to second his views, and 
to execute his projects? Frederick himseK, on learning of 
his success, could not suppress a feeling of rivalry. The great- 
est generals and the most famous captains are sometimes at 



EDITOR'S PREFACE. xxi 

fault; the ablest have their reverses. Alone exempt from 
the common destiny of mankind, fortune seems, in his case, 
to have renounced its natural inconsistency, or, rather, the 
experience of Prince Henry enabled him to control the 
caprices of fortune, and to fix the victory under his standard. 
Could we but examine here the witnesses of his brave deeds, 
the companions of his glory, the only true judges of his 
merit, they would say, with one voice, that, gentle and 
affable in the every -day affairs of life, intrepid and at ease 
in action, humane and compassionate after the combat, by 
a most happy accord of the most eminent qualities, he 
combined the activity of Hannibal, the prudence of Fabius, 
and the wisdom of Scipio. 

"'But is it necessary for us to caU witnesses to prove 
the bravery and genius of a Prince whose name is revered 
by both officers and soldiers ? It is for the French Army 
to avenge the insults. A magistrate, a friend of peace, 
is not the proper man to pronounce his eulogy; and the 
Minister of Justice would hardly dare to add his voice to 
the general acclamations of this celebrated Prince. 

" * One is tempted to believe that, from the midst of 
his "nebulous position," the author has taken upon him- 
self to open the flood-gates of his malice and animosity 
on all those whose positions and characters are above sus- 
picion, and who are worthy of his respect. It is not enough 
to have showered invectives on the uncle of the new King, 
the King himself, his august famUy, the Princesses of the 
blood, and the Ministry; in fact the whole Court is treated 
with such a criminal indecency, that we should blush to 
repeat the infamous expressions of which the author has 
made use. 

" ' His " amphibious existence " enables him sometimes 
to wander from his native land; his imagination transports 



xxii SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

him to far distant countries, to Austria, to Poland, and to 
the northernmost lands; and it is always with the same 
culpable purpose of collecting fresh horrors, of filling his 
correspondence with untruthful statements, and to circulate 
with his discoveries the blackest calumnies. 

" < What opinion can one form of this Secret History, 
which is even more abominable than that of the historian 
Procopius, who, when criticising an Emperor, did at least 
refer to his merits as well as his demerits? It presents us 
with nothing but a collection of shameful impostures, highly 
improbable and easily invented, more for the purpose of 
gratifying the mania of the author, than for attracting the 
curiosity of the reader in search of knowledge. 

" ' It is a collection of portraits in which the artist's imag- 
ination is largely predominant. His hand has mixed the 
colours with the bitter spleen with which his brush was 
already filled ; and, if we are told that he painted his subjects 
as they appeared to him, it must be remembered that his 
prejudiced eye enveloped them in that shade in which he 
was himself obscured. 

" ' It is an assemblage of reflections based indiscriminately 
upon malicious conversations, upon lying reports, upon ficti- 
tious secrets, and upon allegations which have since been 
proved untrue. All these have been written down without 
thought or hesitation, and the author has no fear in asserting 
that they are veritable facts, because it was the only return 
he could make for the treatment he received, of the medioc- 
rity of which he is constantly complaining. 

" ' It is most unfortunate to possess great talent when one 
has not sufficient force of character to apply it to good 
purposes. If the corruption of the soul stifle the sentiment 
of honour and the cry of conscience, genius is a disastrous 
gift from Nature. What are we to think of a writer who 



EDITOR'S PREFACE. xxiii 

voluntarily adopts the role of anonymous accuser; who 
settles himself in a foreign Court with that frankness, that 
ease, that amenity, which leads to the forming of liaisons; 
and who, ere long, abusing the sentiments which he had 
inspired, dares to reveal particulars which he has learnt in 
the most intimate confidence ; who dares to slander all those 
who have received him with kindness, dares to make insinua- 
tions and suggestions concerning them which are entirely 
unjustifiable; and who even carries his audacity to the 
length of insulting, with a brutal cynicism, those whose 
station is so greatly above that of this " agent subalterne " 
(for so he styles himself) that it is difficult to place any 
confidence in his assertions; because, if they were true, his 
relations with people of rank must have been most intimate 

in fact, they must have treated him as an equal ? Again, 

what man would wish to expose himself before his equal? 
The noble may lay aside their rank in their own households ; 
it is frequently necessary for them to do so. But a King, or 
a Prince, or a man of dignity, always knows how to respect 
himself before a stranger; should any familiarities or con- 
fidences be accorded to him, it is done with suspicion and 
is but temporary. 

"'What must have been the result, therefore, when this 
stranger himself admits that he is regarded as a spy? And 
if he is suspected of wishing to find out the secrets of the 
Government, would not a wise cii-cumspection suggest the 
advisability of deceiving him by making a pretence of that 
confidence which he is so eager to abuse ? 

"'Let us suppose, nevertheless, that the author, deceived 
by false reports or by feigned contrivances, believed that he 
was really a witness of aU that he inserted in his correspond- 
ence : the entire work would stiU be a violation of the Law 
of Nations, an abuse of hospitality, an infamy the more 



xxiv SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

unpardonable in that familiarity was with him but the 
cloak of perfidiousness, and that the closest friendship be- 
came the instrument of treachery. 

" ' These reflections lead necessarily to the pronouncement 
of judgment both upon the author of this pretended posthu- 
mous work and upon itself. And, in the first place, it is by 
simple and by sure rules that the author may be judged with- 
out error. 

" ' Has he placed himself beyond the laws of honour and 
probity? Has he gone beyond the bounds of decency? Has 
he so far forgotten himself as to violate public morality? 
Has he been wanting in that respect of which the French 
are ever ready to accord the most touching proofs to then- 
King, — respect impelled as much by love as by duty, but 
respect that every Frenchman owes to other nations, whether 
they are friends or enemies of France ; which every man 
owes to other men, and which every one owes to himself? 
This writer has an unruly spirit. His natural perversity 
makes him rash, violent, and passionate; and, after having 
broken down all the barriers that prudence opposes to his 
license, he only brings trouble and remorse into the hearts of 
those who are unfortunate enough to allow themselves to be 
entrapped by his fables, his lies and his calumnies. 

" ' We are, nevertheless, bound to admit that, if this un- 
known author only fulfilled the particular mission which he 
pretends to have received ; if the letters which compose this 
Secret History were written by him only to be sent direct to 
their destination ; if he made no copies of them ; if it was 
not by his act that they were made public ; in fact, if he 
is entirely innocent of the printing of this work, however 
ignominious may be the obscure person who played this part, 
it is for him alone to reproach himself with his baseness and 
crime, and justice cannot hold as a crime the publication of 



EDITOR'S PREFACE. xxv 

his correspondence. The publisher only merits prosecution, 
and the printer, equally guilty, should share the punishment 
of an offence which is as contrary to public honesty as it is to 
the Law of Nations. 

" ' With regard to the work itself, it is difficult to consider 
this " correspondence " otherwise than as a defamatory libel 
worthy of all the rigour of the law. By a species of fatality, 
writings of this nature generally excite the curiosity; the 
more they are vicious, the more they are sought after. The 
human heart permits itself to be so easily attracted towards 
that which is evil. In censuring the writer, one gives pub- 
licity to his libels. The malicious smile, the honest man 
contents himself with a sigh, and the defamation remains un- 
punished ; whereas general indignation should denounce and 
prosecute the slanderer. " The Secret History of the Court of 
Berlin " has not received the same indulgent treatment. Pub- 
lic opinion was shocked, and it measured the insult, not by 
the man who uttered it, but by the elevated position of those 
against whom it was directed. The disparity of rank seemed 
to add to the gravity of the outrage. The libel was regarded 
as sufficient to excite the indignation of all the Powers, 
should the law not hasten to proscribe the work. 

" < It is by the King's command that we have denounced 
this fictitious correspondence ; it is in his name that we de- 
mand its condemnation ; and, after having consigned it to the 
flames, we call upon the Ministry to employ every effort for 
the discovery of the author, publisher, and printer. 

" ' This, then, is the conclusion of our indictment, which 
we place before the Court, together with the two volumes re- 
ferred to, of which the following is a faithful description : 

" ' A printed work, in two volumes, entitled : " The Secret 
History of the Court of Berlin ; or, Correspondence of a French 



ixvi SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

Traveller, from the month of July, 1786, until 19th January, 
1787. A posthumous work, 1789 ; " without names of either 
the author or printer, containing — Vol. i., 318 pages; vol. ii,, 
376 pages.' 

\_Conclusion of the indictment of the Procureur-general of the 
King. Follows the decision of the Court.J 

" The Court orders that the two volumes be destroyed and 
bui-nt in the courtyard of the palace, at the foot of the grand 
staircase, by the public executioner, the Court being of the 
opinion that the volumes contain defamatory and slanderous 
libels, which are contrary to the respect due to other Powers, 
and in opposition to our laws and those of other nations. 
The Court calls upon all those who possess copies of this 
work to deliver them up to the clerk of this Court in order 
that they may be destroyed. It also strictly prohibits all 
printers and booksellers from printing or selling copies of 
this work, and all colporteurs and distributors from hawking 
or distributing it, under penalty of prosecution and pun- 
ishment with such rigour as the law may permit. And the 
Court further ordains that, at the request of the Procureur- 
general of the King, information may be heard against the 
author, printer, and publisher, before the Conseilleur- rappor- 
teur that the Court may appoint, for the witnesses at Paris ; 
and before the Lieutenant-criminel des hailliages et sene'chaus- 
se'es du ressort, for such witnesses as may reside in the 
provinces, having regard to the printing and distributing 
of this work. The Court ordains that the present decree 
be printed and posted up in all public places, and that 
copies may be sent to all hailliages et sene'chaussees du 
ressort, for a similar purpose. The Court enjoins upon the 
deputies of the Procureur-general du roi to give this mat- 
ter their attention, and to report to the Court within a 
month from this date. Given in Parliament, fully assembled, 



EDITOR'S PREFACE. xxvii 

the Peers being present, the tenth day of February, the year 
Seventeen hundred and eighty-nine. 

" (Verified) Glutton. 

" (Signed) Isabeau. 

"And the same date (10th February, 1789), at the rising 
of the Court, the aforesaid work, entitled ' The Secret History 
of the Court of Berlin ; or, Correspondence of a French Trav- 
eller,' was destroyed and burnt by the public executioner, at 
the foot of the grand staircase in the Palace, in the presence 
of me, Dagobert Etienne Isabeau, esquire, one of the clerks of 
the Grande Chambre, assisted by two ushers of the Court. 

" (Signed) Isabeau." 

At the end of the Secret History will be found a letter 
addressed by Mirabeau to Frederick William II., on the day 
of his ascension to the throne. He was the nephew of the 
great Frederick, and the father of the present King. 

This Prince is not much known as a soldier, his only expe- 
rience in the art of warfare being during the invasion of 
Champagne in 1792. He received Mirabeau's letter with 
kindness, but he did not foresee the destiny which the ^'Voy- 
ageur fratifais " had traced for him. 

c.y. 



SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

THE COURT OF BERLIN. 

LETTER I.* 

July 5th, 1786. 
Sm, — I have the honour to write to you by the 
first post, to inform you that the Berlin mail, for 
which I waited before I would enter my carriage, has 
brought me no letter. It is possible, but not proba- 
ble, that the letter of my correspondent has been sent 
too late for the post. It is also possible, and very 
likely, nay, if the Comte de Vergennes has received 
no intelligence it is almost certain, that the great 
event either approaches or is past ; for I hold it as 
infallible that, when death becomes inevitable, the 
couriers will be stopped. This, sir, deeply engages 

* This letter is evidently addressed to a Minister, who had given the 
traveller some secret commission to execute. It seems evident to us that 
this Minister was M. de Calonne ; and the following letter is extremely 
curious, as it leads to prove that, from the beginning of the year 1786, M. 
de Calonne was determined on the assembly of the Notables; whom 
he convoked and directed, in 1787, with so much perilous and fatal 
precipitation. 

29 



30 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

my attention, and I shall hasten with all expedition 
to Brunswick, where I shall gain certain information; 
there I shall remain several days if the King is 
living. 

I have at present only to add, I shall think no 
labour, time or trouble too great if I can but serve 
you, monsieur, and the cause of the p;iblic. 

I shall not repeat any of our conversations, but 
shall take the liberty to offer you my advice, solely 
founded on my personal attachment; of which you 
cannot doubt, since, independent of that amiable 
seduction which you exercise with power so irresist- 
ible, our interests are the same. The torrent of your 
affairs, the activity of cabals, the efforts of every kind 
which you so prodigally are obliged to make, render 
it impossible that you should yourself class and 
arrange the grand projects which your genius has 
brought to maturity, and which are ready to bud and 
bloom. You have testified some regret that I, for 
the present, declined performing this office for you. 
Permit me therefore, monsieur, to name a person who 
is, in every respect, worthy of this mark of your 
confidence. 

The Abb^ de P^rigord, to consummate and prac- 
tical abilities, joins profound circumspection and in- 
violable secrecy. You never can select a man more 
to be depended upon; or one who will with more 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 31 

fervent piety bow before the shrine of gratitude and 
friendship ; who will be more anxiously active in 
good, less covetous of others' fame, or one with 
superior conviction that fame is justly due to him, 
only, who has the power to conceive and the fortitude 
to execute. 

He possesses another advantage. His ascendency 
over Panchand represses the defects of the latter, 
which have been so described to you as to inspire 
fears, and sets all his great qualities and uncommon 
talents, which daily become more necessary to you, in 
action. There is no man who can guide and rule M. 
Panchand like the Abb^ de P^rigord, who will mo- 
mentarily become more valuable to you the better 
to effect a grand money measure, without which no 
other measures can be effected. You may confide 
that delicate business to the Abbd de Perigord, 
which, especially in the present moment, ought not 
to be trusted to clerks. The noble, the enlightened, 
the civic project of drawing inferences from the 
numerous false statements that infest the accounts 
of Ministers (and which, being compared to the true 
statements, caused, or rather obliged, the King to de- 
termine that decisive measures should give France a 
national credit, and consequently a legal constitution) 
cannot be better realised than by the joint labours 
of these two persons. One of them has long been 
devoted to you ; and the other will be, whenever any 



32 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

single act of benevolence shall excite his emulation. 
Condescend to believe, monsieur, that you cannot act 
more to your own interest. 

I was desirous of writing thus to-night, because it 
would neither be delicate nor decent for the person 
interested to read what I have written; and this 
letter is the last you will receive that must not pass 
through the hands of a third person. My attach- 
ment, monsieur, to you, and your fame, induces me 
to hope you will place some confidence in this coun- 
sel, if I may so venture to call it ; and that it will 
not be ranked among the least of the proofs of the 
most devoted respect with which I am, etc. 



LETTER II. 

Brunswick, July 12th, 1786. 

That the King is very ill is very certain ; but 
he is not at the point of death. Zimmermann, the 
famous Hanoverian physician, whom he sent for, 
has declared that, if he would be careful, he might 
still live; but he is incorrigible on the article of 
abstinence. He still mounts his horse, and he even 
trotted fifty paces some days since, with a man on 
each side of him ; but it is nevertheless true that he 
has the dropsy ; and, in reality, he has not been any 
better since my departure. 

I shall not see the reigning Duke of Brunswick 
before this evening ; he is in the country. He has 
powerfully supported the election which the chapters 
of Hildesheim and Paderborn have lately made of 
a coadjutor. M. Furstemberg has been elected. 
Vienna caballed exceedingly in favour of the Arch- 
duke Maximilian. It appears that the Duke wishes 
to promote peace, since he endeavours, by every 
means, to strengthen the Germanic confederation, 
which certainly has that only for its end, though 
the means may give room for reflection. I have my 
reasons for being of that opinion, which I shall 
explain on some other occasion. To-day I am at 
the mercy of the courier. 

33 



34 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

Parties are very busy at Berlin ; especially that of 
Prince Henry, who is eternally eager, without well 
knowing what he wishes. But all is silence in the 
King's presence ; he still is King, and so will remain 
to the last moment. 

As the immediate death of the King is not ex- 
pected, I shall continue at Brunswick some days, in 
order to prepare him for my return (much more pre- 
mature than I had announced) and that I may more 
nearly study the Duke. 

The coinage continues to be an object of conten- 
tion, and exaggerated discredit. I think it would be 
of use to publish apologetic reasons concerning the 
gold coin, confessing its too high rate (for wherefore 
•deny that which is demonstrated ? ) ; and justificatory 
proofs, relative to the silver, the crowns of sixty-nine, 
and those since 1784, still remaining prohibited. 

You no doubt know that the Duke, Louis of Bruns- 
wick,* has quitted Aix-la-Chapelle, and is retired to 
Eisenach. The troubles of that petty republic may 
perhaps explain his retreat ; but these do not seem to 
me sufficient motives for his new abode, and for this 
single reason, that the Duchess of Weymar is his 
niece. 

* Not the reigning Duke of Brunswick, just before mentioned, but 
his uncle, the late Prime Minister of the Stadtholder ; or rather the late 
effective regent of the United Provinces. 



LETTER in. 

July 14th, 1786. 

I DINED and supped yesterday with the Duke. 
When we rose from table, after dinner, he took me 
aside to the window, where we conversed for about 
two hours, with much reserve at first, on his part, 
afterward with more openness, and at last with an 
evident desire to be thought sincere. 

An expression of esteem for the Comte de Yer- 
gennes, and fear for his approaching retreat, gave 
occasion to this private conversation. The expres- 
sion alluded to was immediately followed by the 
question (which was asked in a tone of affected 
indifference, and betrayed a very strong degree of 
curiosity), " No doubt M. de Breteuil will be his 
successor?" The Duchess was of our party. I 
answered, lowering my voice, but articulating with 
great firmness, " I hope and believe not." It was 
after I had said this that he led me to the window, 
at the far end of the apartment. He presently began 
to converse, with all the energy which his slowness 
and native dignity admit, of the inquietude which 
the Germanic body could not avoid feeling, should 
M. de Breteuil, who was at the head of the Austrian 

35 



36 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

party, and who has long been a servant and friend of 
the Cabinet of Vienna, succeed to the place of first 
Minister. 

I replied (speaking of the Comte de Yergennes 
with every respect, and of the generous and pacific 
intentions of the King with great confidence) that, 
should the Comte de Vergennes retire, it would prob- 
ably be of his own free will ; and that no one would 
have greater influence than himself in the choice of 
his successor; that consequently, whether he re- 
mained in office or went out, the first Minister would 
not be of the Austrian party ; and, though most 
assuredly the probity of the King, and the morale of 
his politics, would continue to render the connections 
between the Courts of Vienna and Versailles re- 
spected, as they would all others, yet, that the inter- 
est of Europe, and of France in particular, was so 
intimately united to the continuance of peace, that 
these connections, far from inciting war, could but 
contribute to render peace durable ; that France was 
sufficiently puissant, from innate strength and from 
the state of her affairs, honourably to own that she 
dreaded war, which she would take every care to 
shun; that I did not think sudden war probable, 
especially when, studying the administration of the 
Duke of Brunswick, I perceived that he had per- 
formed his duties, of Prince and father, with so much 
assiduity and success ; that, however natural it might 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 37 

be for man to seek that career, in which he was 
indubitably the first, I could not believe he (the 
Duke) would sacrifice to the desire of military re- 
nown, so much of which he had already acquired, his 
favourite work, his real enjoyments, and the inherit- 
ance of his children; that all circumstances called 
him to supreme influence over the affairs of Prussia 
after the death of the great King, and that, Prussia 
being at this time the pivot on which continental war 
or peace were balanced, he (the Duke of Brunswick) 
would almost singly decide which was to ensue ; that 
he had formerly sufficiently shone the hero of war, 
and that I was convinced he would hereafter remain 
the angel of peace. 

He then forcibly denied ever having been fond of 
war ; even at the time when he had been most fortu- 
nate. He shewed, independent of his principles, how 
ardently his family and personal interest would in- 
duce him to beware of war. " And if it were neces- 
sary," added he, " in an affair so important, to consult 
nothing further than the despicable gratification of 
self-love, do I not know how much war is the sport 
of chance ? I have formerly not been unfortunate. 
I might hereafter be a better general, and yet might 
not have the same success. No prudent man, es- 
pecially one who is advanced in life, will risk his 
reputation in so hazardous a pursuit, if it may be 
avoided." 



38 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

This part of his discourse, which was long, ani- 
mated, energetic, and evidently sincere, was preceded 
by a phrase of etiquette and remonstrance, in which 
he assured me that he never should possess, and was 
far from desiring to possess, any influence in Prussia. 
To this phrase I reverted; and, by a rapid sketch, 
proving to him that I was well acquainted with 
Berlin, the principal actors there, and the present 
state of men and things, I demonstrated (which he 
most certainly knows better than I do) that his inter- 
est, the interest of his house, of Germany, and of 
Europe, made it a duty in him to take the helm of 
State in Prussia; to preserve that kingdom from 
the hurricane most fatal to States, the strength of 
which principally depends upon opinion. I mean from 
petty intrigues, petty passions, and want of stability 
and consistency of system. " Your personal dig- 
nity," added I, " which is truly immense, and a thou- 
sand times more elevated than your rank, however 
eminent that may be, no doubt forbids you to tender 
your services ; but it is your duty, I will not say not 
to refuse, no, I repeat, it is your duty to take meas- 
ures, and employ all your abilities, all your powers, 
to gain an ascendency over the successor, and to 
seize the direction of affairs." 

This mode of treatment greatly developed the man. 
He spoke with truth, and consequently with a degree 
of confidence, of Berlin. He told me Count Hertz- 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 39 

berg had not let him remain ignorant of our inti- 
macy; he depicted many of the persons who have 
influence, such as I know them to be. I clearly saw 
that there was a coolness, founded on some unknown 
subject, between him and the Prince of Prussia;* 
that he (the Duke of Brunswick) neither loved nor 
esteemed Prince Henry ; and that his (the Duke's) 
party was as powerfully formed as it could be, in a 
country hitherto little in the habit of cabal, but 
which, perhaps, will presently be initiated. I pur- 
posely assumed much faith in the warlike dispositions 
of the Cabinet of Berlin. The Duke gave good proofs 
that, independent of the Heir Apparent, who, though 
personally brave, was not warlike, as well because of 
his manners and habits as of his prodigious stature, 
it would be madness to begin; that the moment of 
acquisition by arms, which, perhaps, still was neces- 
sary to Prussia, was not yet come ; and that it was 
necessary to consolidate, etc., etc. All this was very 
serious, very sensible, and very circmnstantial. 

The Oriental system, Russia, Poland, Courland, all 
passed in review. 

They still have their fears concerning the Oriental 
system ; that is to say, concerning the part that we 
might take. They seem to believe that Russia will 
never powerfully second the Emperor, except in sup- 
port of the Oriental system, and whatever may con- 

• The Heir Appaient. 



40 SECKET COURT MEMOIRS. 

tribute to its success. Poland is to reconstruct. 
We remitted speaking of it, as well as of Courland. 
Suddenly, and by a very abrupt transition (it seems 
to me he employs transitions to surprise the secrets 
of those with whom he converses, and on whom 
he earnestly fixes his eyes while he listens), he 
asked what I meant to do at Berlin. "Complete 
my knowledge of the North," answered I, " which I 
have had little opportunity of studying, except at that 
city; since Vienna and Petersburg are to me for- 
bidden places. And who knows? We always pre- 
sume on our own powers. It may be hoped that, the 
subject being so grand, the soul may elevate the 
genius. I, perhaps, shall dare to snatch the portrait 
of Cassar from the daubers who are so eager to be- 
smear." This answer seemed satisfactory. I found 
it easy to interlard my discourse with agreeable com- 
pliments. I told him he had rather conquered than 
vanquished us; that we regarded the fate of Germany 
as resting on his shoulders, etc., etc.; and that, there- 
fore, the design of writing the most brilliant history 
of the age in which I lived had placed me, even be- 
fore I was acquainted with him, in the rank of one of 
his most ardent admirers. I know not whether he 
did or did not believe that I solely occupied myself 
with literature; but the supposition that I shall write 
history will perhaps render him more accessible to 
me, and acquire me more of his confidence ; for he 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 41 

appears to possess the love, and even the jealousy, of 
fame to the utmost degree. 

I am pressed by the courier because, not having 
quitted the Court all yesterday, I could not write 
before this morning; and the courier departs at 
eleven o'clock. Writing in cipher is very tedious; 
I therefore omit a thousand particulars which lead 
me to believe — 

1. That the English will not, by any means, be 
so quickly successful in their artifices in the North as 
might be feared ; if the Court of Berlin may at all 
depend on the Court of Versailles. 

2. That it is time to speak a little more openly to 
the former; and not to confound mystery and se- 
crecy, finesse and prudence, ambiguity and policy. 

3. That the Duke of Brunswick, whom I believe 
to be by much the most able Prince of Germany, is 
sincerely desirous of peace ; and that he will inspire 
the Cabinet of Berlin with the same sentiments, if 
but the least restraint be laid on the Emperor ; who, 
said he to me, has spoken in outrageous terms, in the 
presence of seven or eight witnesses beside myself, 
of the Prince of Prussia. 

4. That the intention of the Duke is to govern 
Prussia, and to obtain great confidence and superior 
influence in Europe ; that he would dread lest these 
would not be augmented by war, which he is con- 
vinced ought to be avoided, at Berlin ; and that war 



42 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

is not really to-be feared, except as far as France 
shall encourage the Emperor, who without us will not 
be anything. 

I have not time to-day to give more than a sketch 
of the Duke such as he appears to me, who certainly 
will not be thought a common man even among men 
of merit. His person bespeaks depth and penetra- 
tion, a desire to please tempered by fortitude, nay by 
severity. He is polite to affectation; speaks with 
precision, and with a degree of elegance ; but he is 
somewhat too careful to speak thus, and the proper 
word sometimes escapes him. He understands the 
art of listening, and of interrogating according to the 
very spirit of reply. Praise, gracefully embellished 
and artfully concealed, he finds agreeable. He is pro- 
digiously laborious, well informed, and perspicuous. 
However able his first Minister Feronce may be, the 
Duke superintends all affairs, and generally decides 
for himself. His correspondence is immense, for 
which he can only be indebted to his personal con- 
sideration ; because he cannot be sufficiently wealthy 
to keep so many correspondents in pay; and few 
great Courts are so well informed as he is. All his 
affairs are in excellent order. He became the reign- 
ing Duke of Brunswick in 1780, and found his prin- 
cipality loaded with debts, to the amount of forty 
millions of livres. His administration has been such 
that, with a revenue of about one hundred thousand 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 43 

louis, and a sinking fund in which he has deposited 
the savings of the English subsidies, he will, in 1790, 
not only have perfectly liquidated the debts of the 
sovereignty, but, also, those of the State. His coun- 
try is as free as it can be ; and is happy and con- 
tented, except that the trading class regret the 
prodigality of his father. Not that the reigning 
Duke is less sensible to elegant pleasures than an- 
other ; but, severely observant of decency, and relig- 
iously faithful to his duty as a Prince, he has 
perceived that economy was his only resource. His 
mistress, Madame Hartfeld, is the most reasonable 
woman at Court; and so proper is this attachment 
that, having a short time since discovered an inclina- 
tion for another woman, the Duchess leagued with 
Madame Hartfeld to keep her at a distance. Truly 
an Alcibiades, he delights in the pleasures and the 
graces ; but these never subtract anything from his 
labours or his duties, not even those of prudence. 
When he is to act as a Prussian general, no one is so 
early, so active, so minute as himself. It is a mark 
of superior character and understanding, in my opin- 
ion, that the labour of the day can be less properly 
said to be sufficient for him than he is for the labour 
of the day ; his first ambition is that of executing it 
well. Intoxicated by military success, and univer- 
sally pointed out as a great general (especially since 
the campaign of 1778, during which he all the winter 



44 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

maintained the feeble post of Troppau, to which the 
King of Prussia annexed a kind of vanity, against 
every effort of the Aiistrians), he appears effectually 
to have quitted military glory, to betake himself to 
the cares of Government. Everywhere made wel- 
come, possessed of unbounded curiosity, he still is 
capable of assiduously confining himself to Bruns- 
wick, and attaching himself to business. He is, in 
fine, a man of an uncommon stamp, but too wise to 
be formidable to the wise. He delights much in 
France, with which he is exceedingly well acquainted, 
and appears to be very fond of whatever comes from 
that country. His eldest son, returning from Lau- 
sanne, has passed through Franche-Comte, Langue- 
doc, and Provence, and is very desirous to return to 
France. I shall soon know if he is to be sent back. 
In my opinion the son cannot be treated with too 
much respect there, so as to testify confidence in the 
father ; which it seems to me would give the latter 
pleasure, by which he would certainly be sufficiently 
confirmed and flattered, to keep this treatment in 
memory. 

I cannot at present speak of the supper, when the 
Duke removed me from the place of honour, opposite 
the Duchess, where I sat at dinner, to seat me beside 
himself, which is always at the far end of the table. 
The conversation was lively, and absolutely individ- 
ual, but not political. (We had listeners.) He ques- 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 45 

tioned me much concerning France. I am to dine 
with him to-day, and to sup with the Duchess Dow- 
ager, at Antoinetten-Ruh. I could not avoid this tax 
on propriety, which deprives me of an opportunity of 
supping with the Duke, — a favour he rarely grants, 
and which appeared to be much remarked here, yes- 
terday, where I am observed with anxiety. Perhaps 
I am supposed a place-hunter. 

The continuance of Zimmermann at Potsdam is 
prolonged, more than it was supposed it would have 
been. He writes that the dropsy is not confirmed, 
and he again talks of an asthma. This is medical 
cant. He is the creature of the King, not of the 
public. Certain it is that he has gained no victory 
over eel pies and poleyita ; that there are no longer 
any wrinkles in the face ; and that the parts are all 
inflated and oedematous. 

Prince Henry, however, is returned to Rheinsberg, 

where the youthful and handsome R , as it is 

said, occasions rain and fair weather. 

I can warrant it as a fact that a Scotchman who 
is first physician to Catherine II. of Russia, being 
lately at Vienna, dined at the table of the Emperor, 
and was seated by his side. Indeed, this was avowed 
in the Gazettes ; but it was not there avowed that, 
while this physician remained at Vienna, Cobenzl 
(the Austrian Ambassador to the Court of Peters- 
burg, but then at Vienna) having been ordered to 



46 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

show the physician a pleasure-house in the vicinity of 
the metropolis, the Emperor on horseback happened 
to meet the doctor on the road, and continued in con- 
versation with him, at the coach window, for the 
space of more than two leagues. 



LETTER lY. 

July 16th, 1786. 

To-day I was three hours alone with the Duke, 
after rising from dinner. The conversation was ani- 
mated, frank, and almost confidential: it confirmed 
me in most of the opinions I gave in my last letter 
(Number III.) 5 but it has inspired me with much 
fear, concerning the situation of Prussia after the 
death of the King. The successor seems to have 
every symptom of the most incurable weakness ; the 
most corrupt among the persons by whom he is sur- 
rounded, of whom the gloomy and visionary Bishop- 
swerder may be ranked as first, daily increase in 
power. There is a coolness said to prevail between 
the Heir Apparent and his uncles. The coadjutor- 
ship of the order of St. John, bestowed with great 
solemnity on Prince Henry, the eldest son of Prince 
Ferdinand, which deprives the successor of more than 
fifty thousand crowns per annum, is the most recent 
cause of this coolness. It should seem that there 
have been very powerful intrigues for the establish- 
ment of these two young Princes, whom both city 
and Court regard as the children of Count Schmettau. 
The measures taken to effect this were strengthened 



47 



48 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

at the very moment when the King was supposed to 
be expiring, so as to bind the successor, of whom 
they consequently have testified their suspicion. To 
the King's brother, Prince Henry, the half at least of 
all this appertains ; nor has the Heir Apparent 
attempted to conceal his dissatisfaction. Thence it 
results that all the subaltern parties, and their dirty 
cabals, become more active ; so that the respect in 
which the Court of Berlin has been held, and in 
which consists its greatest power, depends, perhaps, 
but too much on the life of the King; unless the 
Duke of Brunswick should seize the reins of Grovern- 
ment, the burthen of which he seriously appears to 
dread. In effect, a kingdom like this, which has 
no constituent foundation, will be cruelly agitated, 
should the winds of Court begin to blow ; and should 
the Duke, who has formed himself without having 
studied in the school of adversity, and whose reason 
and sagacity it is impossible to speak too highly of, 
fear to reverse the whole system of his mode of life. 
But he does not start at difficulties ; and he is too 
much interested in the prosperity of Prussia not to 
seek to obtain influence there. 

It does not appear to me probable that the first six 
months, or even the first year, should produce any 
change, or do more than prepare for change. The 
Duke has repeatedly assured me that all the Protes- 
tant powers of Germany, and a great part of the 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 49 

Catholic, would incontrovertibly be in the interest of 
France, whenever the latter should fully convince the 
Germanic body of her amicable intentions ; and when 
I asked what pledges should be given us that the 
high part with which the Elector of Hanover was 
invested, in the confederation of the Princes, should 
not sway the Cabinet of Berlin to the side of the 
English, and should not become an invincible impedi- 
ment to any sincere union between Yersailles and 
Prussia, he clearly showed me, so as not to admit 
of reply, that the Germanic league would never have 
existed, or at least would never have assumed its 
present form, had it not been for the ambiguity of 
our conduct, relative to the Schelde, to Bavaria, and 
to the Oriental system. He added that the Elector 
of Hanover, and the King of England, were two very 
distinct persons ; and that the English and the Ger- 
mans were great strangers to each other. 

Here I ought to observe that, in my opinion, the 
Duke overacts his part, whenever he speaks of de- 
pressing England, which I well know he loves ; and 
that perhaps because he feels his family connections 
may, in this respect, render him more liable to sus- 
picion. In a word, I cannot too often repeat that 
they do not appear to have confidence in us, but 
that such confidence is very sincerely desired ; and 
that the more because the Emperor, imsupported by 
Prance, is not held in the least dread, and that there 



50 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

is a reigning conviction he will not dare to take a 
single step, when the Cabinet of Versailles shall say, 
" We will not suffer any infraction." 

Be it however remarked that the incoherent con- 
duct of the Emperor, and his abrupt vagaries, often 
unhinge all the combinations of reason. The Duke 
has to-day learnt a fact of this kind, which may well 
incite meditation. 

The Baron of Gemmingen, some time since, wrote 
a very violent pamphlet against the German confed- 
eracy. Dohm, an excellent Prussian civilian, an- 
swered in a strong and victorious manner. The 
Ministry of Vienna, in consequence, requested our 
Ministry to entreat the Court of Berlin to suffer 
wordy hostilities to cease. The latter consented ; but 
there has just appeared (printed indeed at Munich, 
but indubitably coming from Vienna) a satirical and 
bitter reply to Dohm. Verbal wars are rarely insig- 
nificant at Vienna, where they are never begun but 
imder the auspices of Government. 

The following is another fact of serious import, if 
true. The Duke has received advice, from Vienna, 
that between four and five thousand Russians have 
entered Poland, where the Diet threatens to be very 
turbulent. The Duke is desirous we should take a 
decisive part, concerning and against all new arrange- 
ments tending to the further dissolution or dismem- 
berment of Poland. I have not knowledge sufficient 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 61 

of this country to enter into any circumstantial de- 
tail ; but I spoke to him on the subject of Courland, 
explaining my ideas, relative to the late proceedings 
of Russia in this country, such as they will be found 
in my memorial ; and I introduced my discourse as if 
arising out of the conversation. He was ardently 
attentive to what I said, and promised to write ac- 
cording to my sense of the danger to Count Hertz- 
berg. I well comprehend that the circumstances of 
the moment are nothing less than favourable ; and the 
assent which was warmly given by a most excellent 
politician emboldens me to entreat that my memorial 
may be taken into consideration, though it should 
only be practicable in future, and that some instruc- 
tions may be sent me, on the manner in which I may 
sound the Duke of Courland on this head, whom I 
shall meet at Berlin, and the principal persons of 
Courland, with whom I may easily correspond ; my 
trade of traveller being known, and my desire to 
collect facts and to deduce consequences giving great 
opportunities to enquire and speak concerning all 
subjects. 



MEMORIAL.* 

Sent to the Court of France, concerning the declaration 
made hy Russia to Courland, and published in the 
''Leyden Qazettes;' from the 20th of May to the M 
of June, 1786. 

Courland has lately been officially menaced with 
the indignation of the Sovereign of all the Russias, 
on the supposition that the report, relative to the 
abdication of the Duke of Courland in favour of the 
Prince of Wurtemberg, a general in the Prussian 
ser^dce, should be true. 

The reigning Duke, Ernest John, a ferocious man, 
so much abhorred in his own country as not to be 
able to remain there, although he should not dread 
any violence from the Ministry of Petersburg, is 
known to be the son of the famous Biron, who was 
reinstated Duke of Courland, in 1760, by the influ- 
ence, or rather through the fear of Russia, which 
power, with the aid of forty thousand men, expelled 
Prince Charles of Saxony, the uncle of the Elector 
and the legitimate Duke, to restore the former favour- 

* This is apparently the memorial which is mentioned in the preced- 
ing letter. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 53 

ite of Elizabeth,* whom a Court faction had lately 
recalled from Siberia. 

It is also known that this Ernest John has more 
than once felt the whole weight of the resentment of 
Catherine II.; that he has been near twenty years 
banished into Siberia ; that he has no influence what- 
ever in Courland ; and that his abdication is univer- 
sally wished. 

But it is not known, or rather it is kept secret, 
that he was enjoined, by a Ukase (or Edict) six years 
ago, to resign his duchy to Prince Potemkin; and 
that, by the advice of the Chancellor Taube, and of 
the Chamberlain Howen, he averted the storm by re- 
mitting to Prince Potemkin (whose affairs ever were 
and are in disorder) two hundred thousand ducats. 
Rason, the ministerial secretary of the Duke, was 
entrusted to carry him this sum. 

Whether it be that Potemkin, while waiting for 
the execution of his grand projects, which perhaps 
relate to the Oriental system, or to circiunstances 
that are yet immature, wishes to acquire this acces- 
sion of power ; whether it be that he is in want of 
money ; or more especially whether it be that the 

* This is a mistake. Biron was the favourite of the Empress Anne 
Ivanowna; was banished to Siberia by Anne of Mecklenburg, the Prin- 
cess Regent of Russia ; was soon recalled from Schlusselburg and sent to 
Yaroslaf by the Empress Elizabeth; was restored to freedom by Peter 
III. ; and, after the assassination of the latter, to his duchy by Catherine 
II. ; not to confer a favour on Biron, but to wrest the duchy from Poland, 
and to render it dependent on herself. 



54 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

Duke of Courland, since his situation has been so 
precarious, is known in consequence of his avarice to 
have become one of the richest Princes in Europe, 
and that, rendered effeminate by adversity, old age, 
and the daily importunities of his last wife, who has 
acquired some influence over him, he is endeavour- 
ing to place himself beyond the reach of ill-fortune ; 
be it which of these causes it may, a similar crisis is 
again returned. 

The Cabinet of Petersburg is ignorant of none 
of these things. It doubtless fears that the Court 
of Berlin is speculating concerning the province of 
Courland; hoping, by the aid of a new Duke, to 
have it entirely at its disposal. The conditions which 
gave Poland a right of protection over Courland hav- 
ing ceased, when power became law, and at the mo- 
ment the oppressed republic found it impossible to 
fulfil those conditions, it is not absurd to apprehend 
that Prussia will surreptitiously take the place of 
Poland, and thus to its own profit confirm the right 
by the deed. 

Courland is in reality far from a contemptible 
country. Its climate, being in the 57th degree of 
latitude, though sufficiently is not insupportably cold. 
Its extent in length is eighty leagues, and in breadth 
fifty. Its soil is fertile, and its natural products are 
very necessary for all the commercial and maritime 
powers. Two principal and navigable rivers divide 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 55 

it, from east to west, the Aa and the Windau; several 
brooks and canals intersect it in every direction. It 
has two ports, Windau and Liebau on the Baltic. In 
its present important and indolent state, its com- 
merce, active and passive, does not employ less than 
from six to seven hundred vessels, of three, four, and 
as far as eight hundred tons burthen. It contains 
seven or eight small towns, and its population is esti- 
mated at more than a million and a half of inhabit- 
ants. The landholders may be supposed not to be 
in a state of wretchedness, since the revenues of the 
reigning Duke, whose influence in the republic is so 
small, annually amount to two hundred thousand 
pounds sterling. Such is the outline of the situation 
of Courland. 

It would be of little use to prove in this place that, 
the republic being a free State, the Prince of which is 
purely elective, so that though he may abdicate he 
cannot transfer his privileges, Russia cannot legally 
interfere in the affairs of Courland, which ought to 
be as independent as are its rights. This word rights 
is totally stripped of meaning when opposed to the 
word power. Russia has long been in the habit of 
vexing Courland, internally and externally ; of dictat- 
ing the choice of its Governors; of laying its suf- 
frages under restraint ; and of extorting or forcibly 
seizing on its money, its produce and its men. The 
Monarchs of Petersburg have always made it a prin- 



66 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

ciple to familiarise the Courts of Europe to the sup- 
position that Courland has no political existence 
except such as Russia shall please to bestow. All 
this is well known. 

The points I should wish briefly here to examme 
are : 

1. Whether it is not evidently our interest to 
introduce a new order of affairs ; and 

2. Whether we have not the means so to do. 
Courland, kept back and oppressed by every kind 

of exterior and interior tyranny, possesses no one 
species of manufacture. It abounds in naval stores ; 
stores for which reason there is an affinity, resulting 
from circumstances, between Courland and France, 
which latter holds the first rank among industrial 
nations, or an affinity between their mutual products, 
the direct barter of which would give birth to the 
most advantageous kind of trade. 

In reality, there exists at present a species of bar- 
ter between Courland and France ; but in so indirect 
a manner that it is carried on at second or third 
hand, by the intervention of the English, the Dutch, 
the Swedes, the Danes, the Prussians, the Hanse 
Towns, etc. 

This intervention absorbs and destroys all the 
benefit which a trade so advantageous would be of to 
France, and which certainly ought abundantly to pro- 
cure us, and at a moderate price, a price unknown 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 67 

in our dock -yards and markets, ship -timber, masts, 
spokes, fellies, veneering wood, etc., grain, ship-beef, 
saltfish, vegetables, etc. The natural returns for 
these would be the produce of our industry, from the 
coarsest to the finest articles (for nothing is manufac- 
tured in Courland), which the Courlanders (whose 
consumption is great, and who are very desirous of 
articles of luxury, and even of finery) would then 
obtain from us at a moderate price, still infinitely 
lucrative to our traders. 

The advantage of this direct trade would not be 
confined merely to money ; for, beside the influence 
which such intimate connections with Courland 
would give us in the Baltic and the North, where 
we should become the mediators between Prussia, 
Russia, and Poland, which last State must necessarily 
soon undergo some new change, France, by a com- 
mercial treaty with Courland, would acquire two 
ports on the Baltic, which would at least remain 
neuter and almost exclusive to herself. These would 
be useful to us, both in war and peace, as depository 
places for stores, and most of the materials which are 
requisite for the royal and mercantile marine; and 
would highly compensate the disadvantage which 
continually increases, and which is preparing for us 
in the North, relative to our marine, in. consequence 
of the strict connections between England and Russia. 
To the attentive observer, England presents every 



68 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

symptom which can menace the possessions of the 
Dutch in the East, and which can forebode the desire 
of revenge. Russia can at any time rob France of a 
great part of the naval supplies of war, in the Euro- 
pean seas. 

This order of affairs cannot too soon be reversed. 

Let it be attentively observed that there is no ques- 
tion here of a new treaty, but the revival of an 
ancient one; for the Cardinal de Richelieu made a 
treaty with Courland, in 1643, which was registered 
by the Parliament of Paris, in 1647 ; so that, should 
we at present treat with Courland, we can decisively 
affirm, and demonstrate, we are committing no inno- 
vation. 

This seems to me to be a very important remark, 
which ought not a little to influence the resolution 
that may be taken, and the form given to that reso- 
lution, when once it is taken. 

The States of Courland desire this political affin- 
ity between the two countries. The Chamberlain 
Howen, of whom I have spoken, is a man of the 
greatest influence in the republic, and, of all the 
Courlanders, the most anti - Russian ; because that, 
while an envoy from Courland to the Court of War- 
saw, he was carried off, by order of the Empress, and 
banished into Siberia. His nephew was indirectly^ 
but formally, charged to question the Government of 
France on this subject. I positively know he has 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 69 

spoken to the Comte de Yergennes, and that the only 
answer he received from the Minister was: 

1. That, he being Minister for Foreign Affairs, 
this was a subject that did not appertain to his 
department. 

2. That it was requisite that the Duke of Cour- 
land and the States, conjointly and officially, should 
make a proposition to the King, concerning a treaty 
of commerce. 

To this I reply: 

1. That, most certainly, the Minister for Foreign 
Affairs ought to consult with the Minister of Finance, 
on whatever relates to commercial treaties ; but that 
this does not therefore appear to me a sufficient 
reason to reject either the project or the proposal. 

2. That it would be absurd to suppose that Cour- 
land, bowed as it is under the iron rod of present 
circumstances, would expose itself, by taking any 
open step, without first being certain its propositions 
should be favourably received, and that the country 
should be protected against that power which, pos- 
sessed of strength and in the habit of taking its will 
for law, should make every effort to counteract, and 
prevent, whatever might tend to impart solidity to 
the constitution of Courland, and to render its polit- 
ical independence respectable. 

I see no hope that any power, except Prussia, 
should interest itself in the affairs of this province. 



60 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

And this is the second point which it is my intention 
to prove, in this memorial. 

1. Because the situation of the Prussian States is 
such that the stability and prosperity of Courland 
ought no less to influence the King of Prussia than 
if this country was one of his own provinces. 

2. Because he cannot prudently covet Courland, 
which Russia would never leave him in peaceable 
possession of, and which would but increase the 
length of his provinces, already too much extended, 
without rendering his power more real or more 
compact. 

This latter point is self-demonstrative; and, as to 
the advantages which Prussia might derive from the 
future stability of Courland, and from the increase of 
its energy and industry, these are evident from a 
mere view of the map. Between the States of Bran- 
denburg and Russia there is only the dismemberment 
of Poland, which at present forms part of Prussian 
Lithuania and of Courland, of which the King of 
Prussia, politely speaking, would become the useful 
proprietor that very day on which he should become 
its guardian and protector. Russia, therefore, neces- 
sarily and indubitably is formidable to none of the 
powers of Europe, Prussia excepted, on which king- 
dom she can bring evil, and which can do her no 
injury. 

On the other part, it is known that there is only 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 61 

a very narrow slip of Polish Lithuania between the 
States of Prussia and Courland, which barely extends 
from five to six leagues. Here Prussia might easily 
make legal and amicable acquisitions, sufficient to 
open a very advantageous transport trade on the 
Memel, and the canals that might be cut between 
that river and the rivers of Courland, descending to 
the ports of the Baltic, of which I have spoken. 

Either I am much deceived or the Ministry of Ber- 
lin might easily be made to comprehend that, instead 
of forming projects of ambition on this republic, its 
real interest would be to declare, in some manner, 
Prussia to be the representative of Poland in her 
engagements towards Courland, as stipulated by the 
pacta conventa and the pacta subjeetionis, which have 
been actually and necessarily destroyed. Prussia 
might find a hundred reasons of public right to 
allege, independent of her dignity and safety. This 
proposition, and that of acceding to our treaty of 
commerce with Courland, would therefore contain 
nothing imprudent ; it would perhaps be a good means 
of depriving the House of Brandenburg of all fears 
relative to our Northern politics. Nor does it seem 
to be impossible but that the King of Prussia would, 
on this condition, support the declaration we might 
make to the Court of Petersburg, that it was our 
determination to protect Courland ; and not to suffer 
a free country, allied to France by ancient treaties, to 



62 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

be humbled, over which we would not permit any 
direct and legislative influence to be exerted by any 
Court. 

Such a declaration, softened by every diplomatic 
formality, which is so easily practised, would at this 
time be sufficient, in my opinion, especially if made 
in concert with the Court of Berlin, to repel the 
projects of usurpation conceived by Russia over 
Courland. 

Be these things as they may, this small country, 
too little known, together with Poland and the Ger- 
manic body, claims the serious attention of the King 
of France ; who, if my opinion be right, has no other 
general interest, on the continent, than that of main- 
taining peace and the reciprocal safety of States. 



LETTER V. 

July 19th, 1786. 

Yesterday morning, before my departure, the 
Duke granted me an audience for the space of about 
three hours ; or rather personally indicated a confer- 
ence, under the pretence of remitting letters to Ber- 
lin, and which, indeed, he committed to my care. 
We again spoke of general affairs, and of the partic- 
ular situation of Prussia ; of the suspicions which he 
pretends it is impossible to avoid entertaining, con- 
cerning our intentions and our system (how should 
I answer him when such is the disorder of our 
finances that it is impossible we should have any sys- 
tem ?) ; of the dread that daily increases, which the 
Emperor necessarily inspires, who does good awk- 
wardly, but who does enough to acquire great power, 
the basis of which is magnificent, and highly dispro- 
portionate to that of any other monarchy, France 
excepted ; of the impossibility of finding any counter- 
poise to this power, except in the prudence of the 
Cabinet of Versailles ; of the little hope that the 
new regulations of Prussia should be wise ; of the 

63 



64 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

various directions which the various factions that 
were fermenting at Berlin might take ; of the mili- 
tary vigour and the ambitious fumes which intoxicate 
the Duke of Weymar, who aspires to enter into the 
service of Prussia, and to embroil parties; of the 
necessity which there was that the Cabinet of Ver- 
sailles should send a man of merit to Berlin, there to 
inspire awe and give advice, keep watch over the 
factious and the turbulent, etc., etc., etc. 

At length, questioning me with an air of fearing 
what he was going to say was an absurdity, he asked 
whether I should think the project of an alliance 
between France, England and Prussia an impracti- 
cable chimera; the end of which, solemnly avowed, 
should be to guarantee, throughout Europe, to each 
Prince his respective possessions ; a measure in itself 
noble, and worthy of the» two first powers, which 
should command all others to remain at peace ; 
founded on the evident and combined interest of the 
two rivals, and the greatest obstacle to which would 
be that no one would dare to put it in execution. 

The idea, on which I have for these seven years 
been ruminating, is too sublime not to be seductive. 
It would infallibly immortalise the Sovereign by 
whom it should be realised, and the Minister by 
whom it should be promoted. It would change the 
face of Europe, and totally to our advantage ; for, 
once again, commercial treaties, however advan- 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 65 

tageous to England, would never make the English 
anything more than our carriers and our most useful 
factors. 

The Duke has permitted me to correspond with 
him ; he even desired me so to do, and I find I have 
obtained almost that very place in his opinion which 
I myself could have wished. 

July 21st, 1786. 

FmsT PosTSCKiPT. — I am arrived, and perhaps I 
shall learn but little to-day. The dropsy is in the 
stomach ; nay, in the lungs. He was informed of it 
on Thursday. He heard it with great magnanimity, 
say some ; others affirm he treated the physician, who 
was too sincere, very ill. He might drag on life, if 
he would take advice, Doctor Baylies says, another 
year ; but I suspect he will never give up eel pies. 
Count Hertzberg has been at Sans Souci this week 
past ; he had never before been sent for. Two days 
previous to that on which the King made him this 
kind of honourable reparation, if, however, it be any- 
thing else than the necessity of giving breath to those 
who are obliged to converse with him, and of enliven- 
ing his conversation, the Heir Apparent dined with 
the Count at his country - seat, and passed the best 
part of the evening with him and the Prince of 
Dessau. This has bewildered the parties that are 
hotly animated against this estimable Minister, in 



66 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

and for whom, according to my opinion, our em- 
bassy has always testified too little confidence and 
respect. 

Second Postscript. — I have intelligence, from 
what I believe to be a very certain and profound 
source, wholly independent of the Cabinet of Berlin, 
that the Emperor has made preparations which 
greatly menace those parts of Moldavia and Wal- 
lachia that would be convenient to him to possess ; 
that he is immediately expected to repair to those 
frontiers in person ; and that such motions cannot 
otherwise be explained than by reacting the conquest 
of the Crimea in those countries. This information, 
combined with the ultimatum which Russia has deliv- 
ered in to the Porte, seems to me to be of sovereign 
importance. I do not know the precise intentions of 
the Court of France ; but, if the indefinite aggran- 
disement of the Emperor, and particularly the execu- 
tion of the Oriental system, are as formidable to us 
as I suppose them to be, I entreat deliberations may 
be held whether it befits the dignity of the King 
to suffer the tragedy of Poland to recommence, the 
interest of the State to lose the Levant trade, or pru- 
dent policy to temporise, when the match is putting 
to the touch-hole. I cannot for my own part doubt 
but that our inactivity, in such a case, must be gratu- 
itous ; because the Emperor would most certainly not 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 67 

brave us ; and fatal also, since we are precisely the 
only power who have at once the interest and the 
strength to impede such attempts. England will 
trouble herself little concerning them, and without us 
Prussia is nothing. 



LETTER VI. 

July 21st, 1786. 

^ * ^ * * 

An odd incident has happened to me. I am just 
returned from the French Ambassador's, who sent me 
word he could not have the honour of receiving my 
visit, because he was busy. To feel the whole import 
of this act, it is necessary to know that there has 
lately appeared an article in the Hamburg G-azette, 
affirming in express terms I had received orders to 
quit France. You will further recollect that, in gen- 
eral, the Ambassador of France is eagerly desirous of 
receiving the visits of French travellers. Such is the 
present combination of circumstances that this, which 
would only, on any other occasion, be an affair of 
rather serious impoliteness, is at this moment a very 
embarrassing affectation. I believe I have no need 
to tell you I am far superior to punctilio ; but this 
is not mere form. The natural preponderance of 
France is such that the respect in which a native of 
that country is held cannot be wholly independent 
of the reception he shall meet from the Ambassador. 
What, then, must be thought when he shall be envied, 
suspected and watched, and when pretences are 

68 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 69 

sought to render his character equivocal ? And what 
must be his situation, when, far from seeking to 
quarrel with the Ambassador, it is his duty and his 
wish, on all occasions, to preserve appearances, and to 
protect him from becoming instead of making him 
ridiculous ? 

You will have no difficulty in comprehending that 
it is an intricate affair, and that I must well reflect 
on the part I have to take. At present I must dis- 
semble, and expose myself to a new refusal to- 
morrow; but it wiU be impossible to suffer this new 
refusal to remain unnoticed. I write you word of 
this in order that, in any case, and rather too soon 
than too late, you should inform M. d'Esterno it is 
not the intention of Government that I should be 
treated in a disrespectful manner, and still less as 
a proscribed person. He is so much of a timid 
trembler, that he may have been imposed upon by the 
Hamburg paragraph. I do not think him sufficiently 
cunning to have written it himself. He certainly 
appeared ridiculously disturbed at my return, and 
entirely departed from his silent circumspection, that 
he might discover, by questioning those whom he 
supposed intimate with me, what were my intentions. 
Some of the numerous persons who do not love him, 
especially among the corps diplomatique, have amused 
themselves with inventing tales relative to my views, 
similar to those of the " Thousand and One Nights."' 



70 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

His brain is in a state of fermentation upon the sub- 
ject ; and the more so as he is acting out of char- 
acter. I may in consequence of this be very ill- 
situated here. To prevent this you will take proper 
measures. I shall tell you more before I seal this 
letter; he is not a person who will oppose the least 
ministerial insinuation. 



LETTER yn. 

July 23d, 1786. 
There is nobody here, consequently I shall for 
some days lead an inactive life. There is no Court, 
except that of Prince Ferdinand, which is always 
insignificant; he is at present on the recovery.* 
Prince Frederick of Brunswick knows nothing. The 
English Embassy caress and suspect me. Count 
Hertzberg still remains at Sans Souci ; I must, there- 
fore, satisfy myself with the sterility of the moment. 
I imagine I have discovered that the real occasion of 
the threatening declaration of Russia, respecting 
Courland, was a secret proposal of marriage between 
the Countess of Wurtemberg, the natural daughter of 
the Duke, and a Prussian ; and the increasing inti- 
macy of the Duke with the Heir Apparent, who has 
found in the purse of this savage Scythian that 
pecuniary aid with which he ought long since to have 
been supplied by France. The Duke of Courland 
departed, soon after the menace of Petersburg 
appeared, with his wife, who is said to be pregnant, 

* Prince Ferdinand had just then escaped from a dangerous fit of 

fiicknesa. 

Tl 



72 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

to drink the Pyrmont waters. According to all 
appearances, instead of remaining at Berlin on his 
return, he will go to Mittau. He still continues to 
make acquisitions in the Prussian dominions ; he has 
lately bought the county of Sagan, in Silesia; and 
the King, who was not a little vexed to see the Prince 
of Lobkowitz spend the revenues of this fine estate 
at Vienna, treats the Duke of Courland with great 
favour. Beside remitting the manor fees, he con- 
sented to alienate or at least to entail the fief on 
female descendants, which before was revertible to 
the Crown on the want of male heirs ; so that the 
Duke, who has no son, found that, by his carelessness, 
or a very strange kind of ignorance, he had risked 
six hundred thousand German crowns on a chance 
the most hazardous. 

It is indubitable that Prince Potemkin is, or 
appears to be, more in favour than ever. It has been 
found necessary to approve his disobedience. There 
are reports that he has sought a reconciliation with 
the Grand Duke, which he has accomplished. 

The new Minister of Petersburg (the son of Field- 
marshal Romanzow) is not successful here ; intelligent 
people, however, affirm he possesses understanding 
and information. I know he has strong prejudices 
against me, which I shall endeavour to remove, 
and to gain his intimacy ; for he is of such a nature 
that much may be derived from his acquaintance. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 73 

But 70U must feel I stand in need of some instruc- 
tions, or at least of a series of questions, which shall 
serve me as a compass, and by which I may obtain 
the customary intelligence. General politics have for 
some years been very incoherent, for want of possess- 
ing some fixed system. Which of the two alliances, 
that of the House of Austria, or that between the 
two Imperial Courts, Austria and Russia, ought to be 
regarded as stable, sacred, and subordinate to the 
other ? Is France resolved to quit her natural train, 
I mean to say her continental system, for the mari- 
time ? If so, whether wisely or not, this wiU at least 
explain our extreme cautiousness, in what relates to 
the projects of the Court of Vienna. 

The man who wants this knowledge can do little 
more than wander at a venture ; he may, with more 
or less intelligence, write a gazette, but, not having a 
sufficient basis to build on, cannot be a negotiator. I 
entreat it may not be supposed I have the presump- 
tion to interrogate ; I only mean to explain, in very 
few words, such of the reasons which, exclusive of 
my own want of capacity, and of the few means my 
situation affords me, infinitely circumscribe that 
utility which I wish and labour to be of to my 
country. 

I hope I shall not be suspected of supposing any 
importance annexed to those extracts from the Ger- 
man newspapers, which I shall in future send by 



74 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

every courier. It is purely an object of curiosity^ 
but which I thought might be agreeable in a country 
where, I believe, not a single German gazette is 
received; and into which so many Ambassadors 
send no other despatches than those obtained on the 
authority of these gazettes. I shall only speak in 
my extracts of the news of the North. 

FiEST Postscript. — Advice yesterday arrived com- 
manding Lord Dalrymple to depart, and bear the 
order of the garter to the Landgrave of Hesse Cas- 
sel. 

Second Postscript. — I have received a very 
friendly letter from Sans Souci. The King seems 
to hope he shall still live long ; he appears, however, 
to be much more occupied concerning himself and 
his pineapples than by foreign affairs. Astonish- 
ment is testified (this is a surprising affair ! ) though 
in a very obliging manner, that the son of the Comte 
de Yergennes should pass through Hamburg, Dres- 
den, Vienna, etc., without any hope of seeing him at 
Berlin. I have answered I was very grateful, in 
behalf of my nation, for the importance annexed to 
the topographical peregrination of the son of our 
Minister for Foreign Affairs, and that I imagined 
nothing could be more flattering to his father ; but 
that, for my own part, I was wholly uninformed on 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 76 

the subject; though I was persuaded that, if the 
Court of Berlin was reserved as the last place to be 
visited, it would only be from a love of the Crescendo. 
I said the same to Count Goertz, by whom I was 
warmly questioned. 



LETTER yni. 

Berlin, July 26th, 1786. 

The fine weather supports the life of the King, but 
he is ill. On Wednesday he was for some minutes 
wheeled about in his chair, by which he was much 
incommoded, and suffered greatly during and after 
the exercise. His pains increased on Thursday, and 
yesterday he was no better. I persist in my opinion 
that the period of his existence will be towards the 
month of September. 

The Heir Apparent does not quit Potsdam, where 
he keeps on the watch. Still the same respectful 
passion for Mademoiselle Voss.* During a short 
journey that she lately made with her brother, a con- 
fidential valet de chambre followed her carriage at 
a distance, and if the beauty, who in my opinion is 
very ordinary, testified the least desire (to eat white 
bread, for example), before she had proceeded half a 
league further she found everything she wished. It 
appears indubitable that she has not yet yielded. No 
great use can be made either of her uncle or her 
brothers. Frenchwomen arrive daily; but I doubt 

* At present tbe Countess of Ingenheim. 
76 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 77 

much whether there will be any great advantage 
derived from them, except to innkeepers and mil- 
liners. 

The Duke of Courland has lent the Heir Apparent 
money to pay his debts at Berlin ; they are supposed 
to be all discharged, except those of his Princess, 
which they are not very anxious to liquidate, from 
the fear of giving her bad habits. 

I have spoken at large with Struensee. He sup- 
poses the project of the bank to be a grand and 
superb operation, which cannot but succeed. He 
asks timely information, and promises to place and 
cause to be placed in it a considerable sum ; but the 
secret must only be known to him, and the subject 
treated only between ourselves. 



LETTER IX. 

July 31st, 1786. 

I SUPPOSE in reality that, in this commencement of 
correspondence, my letters are waited for, in order to 
write to me ; however, if my letter of the 23d of 
July (Nmnber V.) has been well deciphered and con- 
sidered, it cannot be disowned that I stand in need of 
instructions. Politics are at a crisis. I repeat, pol- 
itics are at a crisis. It is impossible they should 
continue as they are, whether it be from endeavours 
to accelerate or efforts to retard. Everything de- 
notes the Oriental system to increase in vigour. I 
have no doubt but that, soon or late, it will be 
destructive of that of the "West; and the danger is 
immediate, is instantaneous. If Turkey in Europe, 
speaking in political and commercial language, be 
one of our colonies, if we are not resolved to leave 
it to its fate, is it not time to pay it some attention ? 
and because that it is so, is the general system of 
Europe out of the question? Were the King of 
Prussia ten years younger, he would well know how 
to restore the equilibrium, for he would take as 
much from Poland as others might take elsewhere ; 

78 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 79 

but he dies and has no successor. For my own part, 
it is easy to conceive I shall consume my time in 
barren efforts ; and, after taking much more trouble, 
shall be much less useful than if I knew what track 
to follow, and where to gain information. 

The King is in daily danger of death, though he 
may live some months. I persist in my autumnal 
prognostics. Prince Henry having sent for me to 
Rheinsberg by a very formal and friendly letter, it 
would appear affectation in me not to go ; and I shall 
set off on Wednesday, after the departure of the 
courier. I shall not remain there longer than a 
week, where I shall have good opportunities of intel- 
ligence concerning the state of the King, and of gain- 
ing information on various matters. 

Postscript, — The King is sensibly worse ; he has 
had a fever these two days; this may kill him, or 
prolong his life. Nature has continually done so 
much for this extraordinary man, that nothing more 
is wanting to restore him than a hemorrhoidal erup- 
tion. The muscular powers are very great. 

The English Embassy has received advice from 
Vienna that the Emperor is in Transylvania, and 
that the world is ignorant of what he is doing, what 
he intends, or even to what place he is gone. 

All the boats on the Danube are taken into his 
service. 



80 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

The maritime company wished to monopolise the 
sale of snuff and tobacco in Sweden, offering to pay 
half a million annually to the King ; but the Swedish 
States have totally refused to forbid the cultiva- 
tion of tobacco in the kingdom, and this was the 
condition, sine qud non. The actions of this Monarch 
decline greatly, on all occasions ; another Diet like 
the present, and monarchical power would once more 
fall in Sweden. It appears to be undoubted that the 
rumour of his having turned Catholic, on his journey 
to Rome, has alienated the whole nation. But are 
we to impute nothing to the intrigues of Russia, in 
the present fermentation ? 

Struensee repeats that, if the bank be established, 
he and his friends are ready ; that is to say, the most 
monied men in the kingdom, and probably, under a 
new reign, the Government itself. This man ought 
to be cherished. It would be of importance were 
I often empowered to give him good information 
respecting the state of the place. Meditate on this. 
His resources are in himself, and will probably sur- 
vive his administration. He has gained immensely, 
by speculating in the English funds. He ought to be 
weaned of this, to which he is self -inclined, for he 
feels and owns that chances in the English funds are 
exhausted, for the remainder of his life. 



LETTER X. 

August 2d, 1786. 
Written before my departure for Eheinsberg. 
****** 
The King is evidently better, at least with respect 
to pain, when he does not move ; he has even left off 
the use of the taraxicum, or dandelion, the only thing 
Zimmermann prescribed, who, consequently, is in de- 
spair. He simply takes a tincture of rhubarb mixed 
with diarrhoetics, which give him copious evacua- 
tions. His appetite is very good, which he indulges 
without restraint. The most unhealthy dishes are 
his greatest favourites. If indigestion be the conse- 
quence, as it frequently is, he takes a double aperitive 
dose. 

Frese, his physician of Potsdam, still continues in 
disgrace, for having dared to whisper the word 
dropsy on the question being asked him, and an 
appeal made to his conscience, what was the name 
and character of the disease. The King is exceed- 
ingly chilly, and is continually enveloped in furs, and 
covered by feather-beds. He has not entered his 

81 



82 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

bed these six weeks, but is removed from one arm- 
chair to another, in which he takes tolerably long 
sleeps, turned on his right side. Inflation augments ; 
the scrotum is exceedingly tumid. He perceives this, 
but will not persuade himself, or appear to believe, 
that it is anything more than the inflation of conva- 
lescence, and the result of great feebleness. 

This information is minutely exact, and very re- 
cent. There is no doubt of his unwillingness to die. 
The people best informed think that, as soon as he 
believes himself really dropsical and at the point of 
death, he will submit to be tapped, and to the most 
violent remedies, rather than peaceably resign him- 
self to sleep with his fathers. He even desired, some 
time since, incisions might be made in his hams and 
thighs ; but the physician feared to risk tiiem. With 
respect to his understanding, it is still sound ; and he 
even continues his labours. 



LETTER XL 

August 8th, 1786. 
The King is dangerously ill; some affirm he has 
not many hours to live, but this probably partakes of 
exaggeration. On the fourth, the erysipelas with 
blisters on the legs made their appearance ; this prog- 
nosticates bursting, and soon after gangrene. At 
present there is suffocation, and a most infectious 
smell. The smallest fever — and the curtain must 
drop. 



LETTER Xn. 

August 12th, 1786. 
The King is apparently much better. The evacua- 
tion, which was the consequence of the apertures in 
his legs, has caused the swelling to abate, and given 
ease ; but has been followed by a dangerous excess of 
appetite. He cannot continue in this state. You 
may expect to receive a grand packet at my return 
from Rheinsberg. 



ZA 



LETTER Xni. 

August 15th, 1786. 

I AM just returned from Rheinsberg, where I have 
lived in the utmost familiarity with Prince Henry. I 
have numerous modes of communication, which will 
develop themselves as time and opportunity shall 
serve ; at present I shall only state consequences. 

Prince Henry is in the utmost incertitude, concern- 
ing what he shall or shall not be under the new 
reign. He greatly dreads, and more than he wishes 
to appear to dread, though his fears are very visible, 
the influence of Count Hertzberg, who is still de- 
tained at Sans Souci, but, as I think, only for the 
sake of his conversation, — at least, as far as respects 
the old King. This Count Hertzberg has openly 
espoused the English system ; but, though the flat- 
teries of Ewart* and his secret arts have much 
profited by the long contempt in which the French 
Embassy have held this Minister, I believe his prin- 
cipal reason for attaching himself to England is 
because Prince Henry, his implacable enemy, is the 

• Then Secretary to the Embassy, and now the English Ambassador 
at Berlin. 

85 



86 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

avowed and fanatical protector of the French system ; 
and because the Count imagines he cannot otherwise 
make himself indispensably necessary to the opposite 
party; for which reason he clothes himself in the 
uniform of the Stadtholder. 

In consequence of this, and persuaded as I am that 
Prince Henry has not sufficient influence over the 
successor (who is weary of avuncular despotism) to 
displace Hertzberg, who will continually batter his 
enemy in breach, by boasting, by meannesses, by a 
faithful portrait of the Prince's creatures, and by the 
jealousy with which he will inspire the new King 
against Prince Henry, who, if he be anything, will be 
master ; convinced also that he (Hertzberg) is useful 
to France, which is influenced by the uncle because 
he holds the English system in abhorrence, I have 
exerted every effort to induce Prince Henry (who 
wants nothing but dissimulation) to reconcile himself 
with Count Hertzberg, and thus put his nephew out 
of fear. This he might with the greater security do^ 
because Hertzberg, relative to him, could be nothing 
more than a first clerk, who, if he should act up- 
rightly, would make as good a clerk as another ; and 
who, should he endeavour to deceive, might be the 
more easily crushed, after having been admitted a 
colleague. 

I have had much difficulty in persuading him, for 
Baron Knyphausen, the brother-in-law of Hertzberg, 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 87 

and his irreconcilable enemy, because that their inter- 
ests clash, is possessed of the entire political con- 
fidence of the Prince, of which he is worthy, for he 
is a very able man, and perhaps the only able man 
in Prussia ; but as he is in danger of a confirmed 
palsy as his mind and body both decay, and as the 
Prince himself perceives they do, I was able to effect 
my purpose by dwelling on all these circumstances, 
while I heaped exaggerated praise on Baron Knyp- 
hausen, and expressed infinite regret for his situa- 
tion ; so that I have prevailed on the Prince, and 
have personally received a commission to negotiate 
an accommodation between him and Hertzberg; for 
which purpose I shall go the day after to-morrow to 
Potsdam. 

What may I augur from all this ? Weakness only 
and incoherency. It appears indubitable that petty 
cabals, the fine arts, the blues, the subalterns, the 
wardrobe, and particularly the mystics, will engross 
the new King. I have anecdotes innumerable on 
this subject, by which I shall endeavour to profit, and 
which I shall communicate in good time. Has he 
any system ? I believe not. Any understanding ? 
Of that I doubt. Any character ? I cannot tell ; 
my present opinion is that no conclusions, for or 
against, ought yet to be drawn. 

To memorials exceedingly well-drawn up by Prince 
Henry and Baron Knyphausen, all tending to demon- 



88 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

strate that, should Prussia attach itself to the Eng- 
lish system, fifteen years hence Frederick William 
will be the Marquis of Brandenburg, he gives replies 
which are slow, vague, laconic, and hieroglyphic. 
He wrote the other day, for example (I saw the 
letter), " The Prince of the Asturias is all English.^^ 
Baron Boden, however, who is his confidential corre- 
spondent, and who has lately remained shut up with 
him a whole week in his garden at Potsdam, has 
protested that the dispositions of the successor are 
wholly French, and that he had charged him to 
endeavour to convert Hertzberg. Remark this. 
Remark, still further, that Boden is a man of low 
cunning, who may wish to deceive Prince Henry, in 
whose service he formerly was, with whom he quar- 
relled, and to whom he is now reconciled, — Heaven 
knows by what means. Observe, once again, that the 
Prince of Salm-Kirburg has also been (nearly about 
the same time) a week concealed at Potsdam. What 
inconsistency ? 

It is the advice of Prince Henry that Boden, who 
is returned to Paris, should be tampered with. He 
also wishes (for your great men do not disdain little 
means) that a lady should be sent hither, of a fair 
complexion, rather fat, and with some musical tal- 
ents, who should pretend to come from Italy, or any- 
where but France ; who shall have had no public 
amour ; who should appear rather disposed to grant 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 89 

favours than to display her poverty, etc., etc. Some 
elegant trifles would not be amiss, but take care not 
to forget the man is avaricious. The French letters, 
at least those which I shall shew, ought to speak well 
of him, and to report that the King has spoken 
favourably of him; particularly that he has said: 
" This Prince, like me, will be a worthy man." Rep- 
etition might be made of the success of Prince Henry 
in Prance; but in this I would advise moderation, 
for I believe Prince Henry has spoken too much him- 
self on that subject; he has pretended to prophesy 
concerning the new reign, and predictions are disa- 
greeable. Let me add it is affirmed that, could the 
new King be gained, he would become the most faith- 
ful and the most fervent of allies : to this his uncle 
Henry pledges his honour and his head ; and, indeed, 
the Prince of Prussia has never forfeited his word. 
It is added, as you may well believe, that it is neither 
possible nor proper to require more, for in fine we 
are suspected, and with good reason, etc., etc. 

You will imagine France has not been thus treated 
without any pleadings in the behalf of Prussia ; and 
the advocates have pretended to prove (the map on 
the table), alike by military and political details, that 
the alliance of Prussia would be much more effectual 
to France, against England, than that of Austria. If 
it be requested, I will draw up a memorial, according 
to the grounds that have been given me. Nor is it 



90 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

at all required that we should quarrel with Vienna ; 
nothing more is asked than a treaty of confraternity, 
agreeable to the guarantee of the treaty of West- 
phalia ; a treaty well known at all Courts, and with 
this only secret article that, should there be any in- 
fringement of the peace, we then should go further ; 
and if at the present a treaty should be refused, 
reciprocal letters between the two Kings, sealed and 
so left till some event should happen, would be 
deemed satisfactory. In short, a pledge is demanded 
against the Austrian system ; and the written word 
of honour of the King of France will be accepted. 
No subsidies are or will in any case be asked ; per- 
haps even Prussia will pay subsidies to Brunswick 
and Hesse. Great complaints are made of France for 
having permitted and even favoured the German con- 
federation. " For must not Germany, soon or late, 
assume some consistent form ? Must not Prussia 
acquire a frontier ? And what other means are there 
than those of secularisation, which by this confed- 
eracy are interdicted? How otherwise arrange the 
affairs of Saxony than by Westphalia and Liege ? " 
This latter phrase appeared to me very remarkable. 

I do not nor cannot at present mean to send any- 
thing more than the great outlines. Prince Henry is 
French, and so will live and die. Will he have any 
influence ? I know not. He is too pompous ; and 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 91 

the Duke of Brunswick, of a very different com- 
plexion, is the man necessary to the King and the 
country, though he is not loved by the former. 
However, I am supplied with the secret means of 
correspondence, enquiry, and success; and it could 
not be more made a common cause between us. I 
am promised that my services to my country shall be 
amply repaid on the day an alliance is concluded with 
France, etc., etc. 

I forgot a curious fact. The Heir Apparent wrote 
to Boden, before his journey to Berlin, to enquire 
what the people of Paris thought of him. "That 
you will be feeble, indolent, and governed," was the 
substance of Boden's reply. The Prince, as he read 
the letter, stamped with his foot, and exclaimed: 
"I have suffered by myself and I will reign by 
myself." 

PosTSCEiPT. — By the natural discharge of the 
water from the legs, which may be calculated at a 
pint per diem, the swelling of the scrotum has disap- 
peared ; the patient imagines the general inflation is 
diminished. It is probable he is feverish every night; 
but of this he endeavours to remain ignorant. His 
appetite is so extraordinary that he generally eats of 
ten or twelve of the highest dishes. His supper and 
breakfast consist of smoked tongues, bread, butter, 
and a large quantity of pepper. H he feel his stom- 



92 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

ach oppressed by its load, which is usually the case, 
he has recourse an hour or two after dinner to a dose 
of anima rhei. He wishes to have six or seven mo- 
tions in the twenty-four hours, exclusive of clysters. 
From all this you may gather the result, which is 
that we are incontestibly at the last scene, more or 
less protracted. 



LETTER XIV. 

August 17th, 1786. 

All is over ! — Frederick William reigns — and 
one of the grandest characters that ever occupied 
the throne has burst one of the finest moulds that 
nature ever organised ! 

The vanity of friendship was highly interested 
that you should be the first informed of this event; 
and my measures were all most carefully taken. On 
Wednesday, at eight in the morning, I knew he 
was as ill as possible ; that the preceding day the 
hour of appointment for the day following was 
noon, instead of eleven o'clock, as was before cus- 
tomary ; that he had not spoken to his secretaries 
till midday, who had been waiting from five in 
the morning ; that, however, the dispatches had been 
clear and precise ; and that he still had eaten exces- 
sively, and particularly a lobster. I further knew 
that the prodigious foulness of the sick chamber, 
and the damp clothes of the patient, which he 
wore without changing, appeared to have brought 
on a species of putrid fever ; that the slumbers of 
this Wednesday approached lethargy; that every 

93 



94 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

symptom foreboded an apoplectic dropsy, a dissolu- 
tion of the brain ; and that, in fine, the scene must 
close in a few hours. 

At one o'clock I took an airing on horseback, 
on the road to Potsdam, impelled by I know not 
what foreboding, and also to observe the mean- 
derings of the river, which is on the right, when 
a groom, riding full speed, came for the physician 
Zelle, who received orders to make all haste, and 
who instantly departed. I soon was informed that 
the groom had killed a horse. 

I was thrown into some perplexity. That the 
city gates would be shut was certain; it was even 
possible that the drawbridges of the island of 
Potsdam would be raised the moment death should 
take place, and should this happen my uncertainty 
would continue as long as it should please the new 
King. On the first supposition — how send off a 
courier? There were no means of scaling the 
ramparts or the palisadoes, without being exposed 
to a fray, for there are sentinels at every forty paces 
behind the palisadoes, and at every fifty behind 
the wall. What was to be done? I had not 
received, could not receive any orders ; I could only 
use my own resources. And ought I to expose 
myself to ridicule, by sending intelligence already 
known, or concerning an event so well foreseen ? 
Was the loss or gain of a week worth the expense 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 95 

of a courier ? Had I been Ambassador, the certain 
symptoms of mortality would have determined me 
to have sent off an express before death. For 
what addition was the word death? How was I 
to act in my present situation? It certainly was 
most important to serve, and not merely to appear 
to have served. I hastened to the French Ambas- 
sador. He was not at home; he dined at Charlot- 
tenburg. No means of joining him at Berlin. I 
dressed myself, hurried to Schoenhausen, and arrived 
at the palace of the Queen as soon as the Ambassa^ 
dor. He had not been informed of particulars, and 
did not imagine the King was so ill ; not a Minister 
believed it; the Queen had no suspicion of it; she 
only spoke to me of my dress, of Rheinsberg, and 
of the happiness she had there enjoyed when Prin- 
cess Royal. Lord Dalrymple, with whom I am 
too intimate to admit of dissembling what my 
opinion was, assured me I was deceived. "That 
may be," replied I ; but I whispered to our Ambas- 
sador that I had my intelligence from the sick couch, 
and that he ought to believe stock-jobbers had 
as good information as the diplomatic body.* I 
know not whether he believed me; but, like me, 
he would not sit down to play, and left the company 
soon enough to send news of the approach of death. 

*It will here be perceived this was intended to give the French 
Ambassador to understand that he had no competitor. 



96 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

I still had great reason to be diffident of the 
activity of our Embassy. How did I act? I sent 
a man, on whom I could depend, with a strong 
and swift horse to a farm, four miles from Berlin, 
from the master of which I had some days before 
received two pairs of pigeons, an experiment on the 
flight of which had been made ; so that, unless 
the bridges of the isle of Potsdam were raised, I 
acted with certainty; and, that I might not have 
a single chance against me, for I thought the news 
tardy in arriving, I sent M. de Nolde by the daily 
stage, with orders to wait at the bridges of the 
island. He was acquainted with the station of my 
other man; the raising of the bridges would speak 
plainly enough ; he had money sufficient to push 
forward ; there was no human power apparently 
that could counteract me, for my gentry had not 
a single Prussian post to pass, and were to proceed 
to Saxony, taking care not to go through any for- 
tified place ; and they had their route ready traced. 

M. de Nolde was departing at half-past six in the 
morning, with the stage, when General Goertz, aide- 
de-camp to the late King, arriving full speed, called 
aloud : " In the King's name, lower the portcullis," 
and M. de Nold^ was obliged to turn back ! Five 
minutes after, I was on horseback ; my horses had 
passed the night saddled ; and, that I might omit 
nothing, I hastened to the French Ambassador. He 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 97 

was asleep. I wrote to him immediately that I knew 
a certain mode of conveyance, if he had anything to 
send. He answered, and I keep his note as a curious 
proof if, which, however, to me appears impossible, 
the Comte de Vergennes keeps no courier,* — " The 
Comte d'Esterno has the honour to return thanks to 
Mirabeau, but cannot profit by his obliging offer." 

I then reflected, either he had sent off a courier, 
who only could convey the news of the King's ex- 
treme danger, consequently there must be something 
to add, or he had received orders not to send any ; 
otherwise his apathy was wholly inconceivable. I, 
moreover, knew that the Saxon envoy had sent off 
his chasseur on the eve, so that he was twenty hours 
and forty leagues in advance with me ; it therefore 
was wholly improbable that M. de Vibraye at Dres- 
den should not hear of the King's danger. The same 
might be conjectured of the aide-de-camp Wittinkoff, 
who bore the news to the Duchess Dowager of Bruns- 
wick, and would certainly spread it, so that nothing 
was left for me till absolute death should happen. 
After considering, I did not find we were rich enough 
to throw a hundred guineas away ; I therefore re- 
nounced all my fine projects, which had cost me some 
thought, some trouble, and some guineas ; and I let 
fly my pigeons to my man with the word retuen. 

Have I done well, or ill ? Of this I am ignorant ; 

* The Comte de Vergennes first read the news in the Leydeu Gazette. 



98 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

but I had no express orders, and sometimes works 
of supererogation gain but little applause. I have 
thought it my duty to send you this account ; first, 
because it may be of service (observe that several 
prizes have thus been gained) ; and secondly, to 
prove that I wanted neither zeal nor activity, but 
effrontery. 

The new King remained all Thursday at Sans 
Souci, in the apartment of General Moellendorf. 
His first act of sovereignty was to bestow the order 
of the Black Eagle on Count Hertzberg. At five 
in the morning, His Majesty was busy with the sec- 
retaries of the late King. This morning he was 
on horseback in the streets of Berlin, accompanied 
by his eldest son. Thursday presented a spectacle 
worthy of observation. 

There were many wet eyes, even among foreign 
Ambassadors ; for they were all present, the French 
excepted, when the troops took the oath of alle- 
giance. 

The ceremony is awful, and would be more so if 
the oath, which the soldiers repeat word by word, 
were not so long. Yet this vast military parapher- 
nalia, that multitude of soldiers, who all the morning 
swarmed in the streets, and the precipitate admin- 
istering of the legionary oath, seem but to me too 
exclusively to proclaim the military power ; seem but 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 99 

to say: I am more especially the King of the 

SOLDIERS, I COMMIT MYSELF TO MY ARMY, BECAUSE I 
AM NOT CERTAIN OF POSSESSING A KINGDOM. I am 

persuaded these military forms will be mitigated 
under the new reign. 



LETTER XV. 

August 18th, 1786. 

Prince Henry received information of the decease 
somewhat late; not till yesterday, the seventeenth, 
at midnight. But this, perhaps, was occasioned by 
their desire to send him one of his favourite officers, 
who was a very bad horseman. The letter of the 
King was a page and a half in length, written by his 
own hand, and inviting the Prince to come, who ar- 
rived to-day at three in the afternoon. As soon as 
it was dark, his aide-de-camp came for me; and what 
follows is the substance of the Prince's narrative. 

He has had an interview of an hour and a half 
with the King, but is no further advanced in the 
knowledge of what he shall hereafter be. The King 
was devoid of ostentation in his behaviour to his 
family ; and was very much moved with the Prince, 
says the latter, but no way communicative. The 
uncle only attempted to speak of foreign politics. 
His request in behalf of his favourite, Tauensien, 
captain and aide-de-camp to his Royal Highness, was 
immediately granted. 

« Resolved on the French system, but desirous of 

100 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 101 

seeing — " "Why ? " " Dignity, prudence, the alarm- 
ing discontents of Holland." " Are you brother or 
King? as brother interest yourself; as King do not 
interfere, you will but have the greater influence." 
" Your father, whose name you cannot pronounce 
without weeping, was as much French as I am; this 
I will demonstrate by his letters." " Oh, I have 
seen proofs of that," replied the King, " in those of 
the Queen of Sweden." 

" Vienna." " Advances it is supposed will be 
made ; they will be accepted ; the war of peace will 
actually be concluded." 

" The English system ? " " God preserve me 
from it!"* "Russia?" "It has scarcely been 
thought on." 

The whole day passed in well-managed artifice. 
The King was on horseback with his eldest son ; he 
addressed his generals with caresses of every kind: 
" If you serve less faithfully than formerly, I, by 
being obliged to punish, shall be the person pun- 
ished." He spoke a little more seriously to the 
Ministers, with whom, notwithstanding, he dined. 
Severely to the secretaries — " I well know you have 
been guilty of indiscretions; I would advise you to 
change your behaviour." 

Hertzberg hitherto preserves aU his consequence. 

* It is Hertzberg who debates warmly for Holland ; and beneatb this 
mask the tip of the English ear appears. 



102 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

The King has not once pronounced his name to 
Prince Henry, nor the Prince to the King. His 
Majesty, however, tenderly embraced Count Fincken- 
stein, a true French knight errant, and the only 
person, after Knyphausen, in whom Prince Henry 
confides ; that is to say, willingly. " I thank you," 
said the King, " for the eminent services you have 
been so indefatigable in rendering my uncle ; and I 
request you will act in the same manner for my inter- 
est." It is "to be noted that Count Finckenstein 
is the implacable enemy of Hertzberg, but the uncle 
of the dearly beloved Mademoiselle Yoss. 

The will is to be opened to-morrow, in presence of 
those interested. The King will not attempt to alter 
a single line, one article excepted, the necessity of 
erasing which he will submit to his uncles. The old 
Monarch has been generous. He has bequeathed 
Prince Henry two hundred thousand crowns and a 
handsome ring, exclusive of what will revert to him 
by the family agreement. The rest are likewise well 
treated, but not so magnificently. 

The funeral ceremony afforded Prince Henry a 
proper excuse for remaining ; it is to be performed at 
Potsdam. The King will depart thence to receive 
homage in Prussia and Silesia; this is an old custom 
of the country. Prince Henry will come to an 
explanation previous to his journey; but he is deter- 
mined to wait as long as possible, that the King may 
begin the subject himself. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 103 

Speaking of me, His Majesty said : " I suspect he is 
ordered to observe me; his love* for the Emperor 
probably will not expose him to the temptation of 
speaking ill of me, when there is nothing ill to be 
spoken." 

Prince Henry fears that, the mode of life excepted, 
the method and especially the ceremonies of Govern- 
ment will be continued. He has charged me to men- 
tion that Comte d'Esterno is much too cold, too 
distant, too entirely an Ambassador, for the new 
King. He entreats our Ministry not to be tedious in 
bargaining concerning the pledges of confidence. 

It is said, and I forgot to ask Prince Henry, who 
perhaps does not know whether it be or be not true, 
that the King has sent for the Duke of Brunswick. 
The Minister, Schulemburg, is in danger. Prince 
Henry, by whom he has so long been hated and 
decried, is resolved to give him support. Schulem- 
burg returned only this morning. He has composed, 
or rather made Struensee compose, an apologetic 
memorial, adroit and sophistical, in which he has 
imputed to the late King that order of affairs which 
he proposes to remedy. He declaims against monop- 
olies, — he, who is himself at the head of all the 
monopolies ; but he endeavours to prove they cannot 
be suddenly reformed, especially that of the maritime 
company. 

* This is ironical. 



LETTER XYI. 

August 22d, 1786. 

Prince Henry is singularly well satisfied with the 
new King, who the day before yesterday (Sunday) 
spent the greatest part of the afternoon with his 
uncle. The latter went to him in the morning to 
know the watchword. He pretends his nephew in- 
dicates an entire confidence in him ; but I fear he 
interprets compliments into pledges of trust. He 
affirms the downfall of Hertzberg approaches; this 
I do not believe. " I and my nephew," said the 
Prince, "have been very explicit;" but I doubt the 
nephew has deceived the uncle. The conciliating 
temper of the King, and his good -nature, which 
induce him to receive all with kindness, may like- 
wise lead to error, without intending deception ; and 
these rather prove he possesses sensibility than 
strength of mind. 

Prince Henry affirms that the King is entirely 
French. He requests that no attention may be paid 
to the sending of Colonel or Major Geysau to Lon- 
don, with accession compliments ; these, he affirms, 
relate only to the family. The King has beside 

104 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 105 

been deceived ; he was told that the Court of St. 
James had sent compliments at the death of King 
George, which is not true. This, it is added, is 
an artifice of Comit Hertzberg. Prince Henry did 
not arrive soon enough to prevent the thing being 
done; were it to do again it should be otherwise. 
(Remark, it is the Prince himself who speaks.) No 
one has been sent either to Vienna or to Petersburg. 
(Not to Vienna, to the chief of the Empire, who 
is almost as near a relation as the King of England. 
And as to Petersburg, Romanzow has made such 
bitter complaints that Count Finckenstein, moderate 
as he is, demanded whether he had received orders 
from his Court to speak in that style.) But it is 
singular enough that envoys have been sent every- 
where else ; and particularly Count Charles Podewils 
(brother of him who is at Vienna) is gone to bear 
the news to Sweden. This is departing from the 
old system, to which, it is said, the King means, 
in other respects, to adhere ; for the King of Sweden 
was held in aversion by the late King ; nor is he 
less hated by Prince Henry. Count Stein, a kind 
of domestic favourite, is gone to Saxony, Weymar, 
Deux-Ponts, etc. 

Prince Henry wishes the Minister for Foreign 
Affairs should write, and immediately, that the 
Court of France hopes the new King will confirm 
the friendship his predecessor began; and should 



106 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

give it to be understood that all the Prussian 
Ministers are not supposed to mean as well, toward 
France, as the King himself (I am not at all of 
this opinion ; for this would be to distinguish Hertz- 
berg, and to render the war against our Cabinet 
more inveterate. If the downfall of this Minister 
be necessary, it can be effected only by taxing him 
with governing the King), and that the reciprocity 
of good-will and good offices may, and ought to, pro- 
duce a more intimate connection. He wishes M. 
de Calonne might write soon to him (Prince Henry) 
a friendly and ostensible letter, but which ought to 
be sent by safe hands; that it should be recom- 
mended to Comte d'Esterno to smooth his brow; 
and he is particularly desirous a mode of some- 
what calming the affairs of Holland should be 
found, and that this act should be much praised and 
insisted on. 

The Duke of Brunswick has been sent for, and 
is to arrive on Thursday. It is said he brings 
another will, which was deposited in his hands. The 
first was not read before the family, but only in 
presence of the two uncles and the two Ministers. 
The legatees have all received their bequests. The 
date of this will is 1769. It is in a pompous style, 
and is written with labour and declamation. The 
King has been exceeding attentive to specify that his 
legacies are made from the savings of his privy purse. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 107 

The following is a sketch of his donations : The 
Queen has an annual augmentation to her income of 
ten thousand crowns. Prince Henry has the gross 
sum of two hundred thousand crowns, a large green 
diamond, a lustre of rock crystal estimated at fifteen 
thousand crowns, a set of eight coach -horses, two 
led horses richly caparisoned, and fifty anteaux, or 
small casks of Hungarian wine. Prince Ferdinand 
the gross sum of fifty thousand crowns, and some 
Hungarian wine. Princess Ferdinand ten thousand 
crowns annually (the reason of this was that, in 
1769, she was the only Princess of her house who 
had any children), and a box. Princess Henry six 
thousand crowns annually. The Duchess Dowager 
of Brunswick ten thousand crowns annually. The 
Princess Amelia ten thousand crowns annually, and 
all the personal plate of the late King. The Princess 
of Wurtemberg the gross sum of twenty thousand 
crowns. The Duke of Wurtemberg a ring. The 
Landgrave of Hesse the gross sum of ten thousand 
crowns. Prince Frederick of Brunswick the same. 
The reigning Duke of Brunswick the same, with 
eight horses (among others, the last that Frederick 
mounted) and a diamond ring, estimated at twenty- 
two thousand crowns, etc., etc., etc. 

The King has confirmed all this with a very good 
grace. The only article that he will not agree to was 
a strange whim of the late King, relative to the inter- 



108 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

ment of his body ; he wished to be buried beside his 
dogs. Such is the last mark of contempt which he 
thought proper to cast upon mankind.* I know not 
whether the will that is coming will be equally 
respected with that already opened, even though they 
should not be contradictory. 

As to the situation of the Court, I believe the 
truth to be that Prince Henry exaggerates his ascend- 
ency; and that he is in absolute ignorance of the 
King's intentions. They prattle much together, but 
there is no single point on which they have yet 
come to any stipulation. True it is that five days 
are scarcely yet elapsed. But wherefore presume ? 
The Prince supports the Minister, Schulemburg ; and 
I know that Schulemburg found the King dry and 
cold. He had one choice for the French Embassy; 
and I know the King has another, which he has not 
even concealed from the Prince. The Monarch hears 

* The tongue of scandal very publicly, that is to say, in Prussia, gives 
a far different reason ; but it is one so revolting, so atrocious, that not 
only charity but probability leads us to suspect the truth of such an accu- 
sation. Still, his love for his dogs while living, his manner of treating 
them, and his last request to be buried by their side, are very strange, or, 
in a man like him, very whimsical facts. One of these favourites, a grey- 
hound bitch, was taken at the battle of Sorr, when the baggage was 
plundered by Trenck and Nadasti. Regardless of inferior losses, the 
King was in the act of writing to Nadasti, to request his bitch might be 
restored, when the Austrian general, knowing his love for the animal, 
which was itself greatly attached to him, sent it back; the bitch, 
unperceived by the Monarch, leaped vipon the table while he was 
writing, and, as usual, began to caress him, at which he was so affected 
that he shed tears. The day before he had cut off many thousands of 
men, and charged his dear children to give no Saxon quarter. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 109 

all, but is in nothing explicit. Bishopswerder himself 
perhaps does not know what he is to be, and, if he 
be prudent, will not be in too great haste. 

I have twice seen Count Hertzberg, and found 
him still the same, a small portion of dissimulation 
excepted. He very positively denied being English. 
He does not seem to me to think he has the least 
need of Prince Henry, whom he has not been to visit 
(which is very marked, or rather indecent behaviour) 
since his promotion to the order of the Black Eagle. 
I wished to insinuate to him that it would be easy to 
consult the uncle by the aid of the nephew ; this he 
declined, but gave me an apologetic memorial for 
Prince Henry, relative to his personal discussions 
with Baron Knyphausen. Either Prince Henry or 
Hertzberg, or both, are much deceived. Hertzberg 
certainly sups almost every night with the King ; and 
the opinion of some well-informed people is that this 
Minister, and General Moellendorf, will be appointed 
to educate the Prince of Prussia. 

The Marquis of Luchesini is continued in his place 
by the present King ; but hitherto he has only been 
desired to write the poem for the funeral. The secre- 
tary of Prince Henry, it is said, is to compose the 
music ; and this is one of the things which turn the 
uncle's brain. 

I have sent the King my grand memorial * ; he has 

* The memorial found at the end of the second volume. 



110 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

only acknowledged having received it, adding that I 
might remain persuaded whatever should come from 
me would give him pleasure ; and that, of all the 
obliging things that were said to him, none flattered 
him more highly than mine. 

P. S. — The Ministers took the oath of allegiance 
yesterday, about three o'clock; hence, no probable 
changes for some time to come. Count Arnim Boytz- 
emburg, sent for by the King, arrived with all haste, 
and passed the evening with His Majesty. I believe 
him proper for nothing but a place about Court; it 
may, however, have relation to the Embassy to 
France, but more probably to the place of Grand 
Marshal, or that of Minister of the Landschafft, a 
kind of president of the provinces, who greatly in- 
fluences the assessments of the taxes, and other 
internal arrangements. 



LETTER XVII. 

August 26th, 1786. 

I FEAR my prophecies will be accomplished. 
Prince Hem^y appears to me to have gained noth- 
ing but bows from his nephew. One article of the 
will of the King's grandfather disposed of the suc- 
cession of certain bailliages, so as to bequeath an 
accession of income, of about forty or fifty thousand 
crowns, to Prince Henry, including an augmentation 
of the revenue of Prince Ferdinand. Circumstances 
not being exactly the same now as supposed, by the 
testator, the Ministers (that is to say, Hertzberg) 
have pretended that this bequest no longer was legal ; 
and the King, eluding to grant the legacy, has made 
a proposal to his uncle to have the suit determined 
either in Germany, France, or Italy. The Prince 
has written an ingenious and noble letter to him, but 
in which he indicates the enemy. The King has 
redoubled his outward caresses for his uncle, and has 
submitted to three judges, who have been nominated 
by the Prince. I hence conclude that the uncle will 
gain the suit of the bailliages, but never that of the 
regency. 

Ill 



112 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

Hertzberg, however, has commissioned me to make 
some advances from himself to the Prince, and this I 
think is a sign that he is not in perfect security. I 
never could prevail on the Prince to comply ; some- 
times inflated, sometimes agitated, he neither could 
command his countenance nor his first emotions. 
He is deceitful, yet knows not how to dissemble ; 
endowed with ideas, wit, and even a portion of under- 
standing, but has not a single opinion of his own. 
Petty means, petty councils, petty passions, petty 
prospects ; all is diminutive in the soul of that man. 
While he makes gigantic pretensions, he has a mind 
without method ; is as haughty as an upstart, and as 
vain as a man who had no claim to respect ; he can 
neither lead nor be led. He is one of too frequent 
examples that insignificance of character may stifle 
the greatest qualities. 

The thing the new King fears the most is being 
thought to be governed ; and in this respect Prince 
Henry, of all men, is the least adapted to the Mon- 
arch ; who I believe would consent not to reign, pro- 
vided he might only be supposed to reign. 

Remarkable change ! The general directory is 
restored to the footing on which it was under 
Frederick William I.* This is a wise act. The 
result of the madness of innovation, under Frederick 
n., was that, of all the Kings in Europe, he was the 

* Tbe predecessor of the late King. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 113 

most deceived. The mania of expediting the whole 
affairs of a kingdom in one hour and a half was the 
cause that 'the Ministers were each of them absolute 
in their departments. At present, all must be deter- 
mined in a committee; each will have occasion of 
the consent and sanction of all the rest. In a word, 
it is a kind of Council. This, no doubt, will have its 
inconveniences; but how are inconveniences to be 
avoided ? 

The edict for suppressing the Lotto is signed, as I 
am assured. I shall at least have done this much 
good to the countrj.f But the King has permitted 
the last drawing, which is wrong; there ought to 
have been none under his reign. Perhaps it is only 
popular report. 

The Duke of Brunswick arrived this evening. M. 
Ardenberg-Reventlau, a man of merit and his favour- 
ite Minister — though M. Feronce is the principal 
— preceded him, and was here at a quarter after 
four. The Duke was admitted to see His Majesty, 
who rises at four o'clock ; at half after six he was on 
the parade. The King received him with neither dis- 
tance nor ardour. Perhaps nothing more is meant 
by this journey than politeness. Necessity only could 
make such a man Prime Minister, who will not 
trouble himself with fruitless efforts, but who will 
be very tenacious in his grasp. I shall not converse 

t See the before-mentioned memorial. 



114 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

■with him till to-morrow. The will he brings will 
probably be burnt ; it is said to be of a much earlier 
date than the other, and as far back as 1755. 

The Landgrave of Hesse -Cassel, it is affirmed, is 
coming; also the Duke of Weymar, the Prince de 
Deux -Fonts, and even the Duke of York. Of the 
latter I doubt. 

Hertzberg pretends that the King, by becoming 
the pledge of the Stadtholder, ought to make us easy 
concerning Holland, but he has not told us who shall 
make the pledge respected. 

Prince Henry wishes advice should be sent that 
Count Hertzberg, who has not the good word of the 
world, appears to have gained the entire confidence 
of the King, and even to act the master. This last im- 
putation is probably the most effectual method to pro- 
cure the downfall of any man, under the present sign. 

There are many small Court favours granted, but 
no considerable place bestowed. I have attempted to 
reconcile Hertzberg and Knyphausen, which I was in 
a train to accomplish, by demonstrating to them that 
their coalition would erect a throne which could not 
be shaken. Knyphausen refused, because, alleged 
he, Hertzberg is so deceitful it can never be known 
whether the reconciliation is or is not sincere ; " and 
it is better," said the Baron, " to be the open enemy 
than the equivocal friend of a man whose credit is 
superior to our own." 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 115 

I am inclined to think Hertzberg must be dis- 
placed, if we wish the Prussians should become 
French. Three months are necessary to draw any 
conclusions that should be at all reasonable. I again 
repeat, if you have any grand political views, relative 
to this country and Germany, put an end to the dem- 
ocratical quarrels of Holland ; which are only the 
disputes of cunning, profitable to those who have 
their fortunes to make, but not to those whose for- 
tunes are made. 



LETTER XVIII. 

August 29th, 1786. 

To prophesy here daily becomes more difficult j 
time only can afford any rational prognostics. The 
King apparently intends to renounce all his old 
habits; this is a proud undertaking. He has made 
three visits to Schoenhausen,* nor has he cast one 
look on Mademoiselle Voss ; no semblance of an 
Orgia; not one woman's bosom touched since he 
has sate on the throne. One of his confidants pro- 
posed a visit to Charlottenburg. " No," replied he ; 
" all my former allurements are there." He retires 
before ten in the evening, and rises at four; he 
works excessively, and certainly ^ith some difficulty. 
Should he persevere, he will afford a singular ex- 
ample of habits of thirty years being vanquished. 
This will be an indubitable proof of a grand charac- 
ter, and shew how we have all been mistaken. But 
even, the supposition granted, which is so far from 
probable, how deficient are his understanding and his 
means. I say how deficient, since even his most 
ecstatic panegyrists begin by giving up his under- 

* The Queen's Palace. 
116 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 117 

standing. The last day that he exercised the troops, 
he was ridiculously slow, heavy, and monotonous. 
The men were four times ranged in columns, and 
concluded with parading. This continued three 
hours, and in the presence of a general such as is 
the Duke of Brunswick. Everybody was dissatisfied. 
Yesterday, the first Court day, he was ill ; he forgot 
some of the foreign Ministers, and uttered nothing 
but a few commonplace phrases, hasty, embarrassed, 
and ill-chosen ; this scarcely continued five minutes. 
He immediately left us to go to church ; for he does 
not miss church ; and religious zeal, homilies and 
pulpit flatteries already begin to be everywhere heard 
and seen. 

Prince Henry has gained his suit, concerning the 
bailliages, as I had foreseen ; in other respects, he 
has not advanced a step, consequently has gone 
backward. He dines every day with the King, and 
does wrong; he affects to whisper with him, and 
does wrong ; he speaks to him of public affairs inces- 
santly, and does wrong. The King goes alone to 
visit the Duke of Brunswick ; and also goes in com- 
pany with Hertzberg, or meets him at the Duke's. 
The latter pretends to interfere only with the army, — 
the sole thing which, according to him, he under- 
stands. I have never yet seen him in private, but 
he has appointed me an audience on Wednesday 
morning. 



118 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

The English faction continues very active, and this 
proves there are difficulties to encounter. In reality, 
it is an alliance so unnatural, when compared to ours, 
that it seems to me we should not suffer ourselves, 
though the King should commit blunders, to be 
routed by his mistakes. 

The Monarch becomes very difficult effectually to 
observe. He reverts to the severe ceremonies of Ger- 
man etiquette. It is imagined he will not receive 
foreigners, at least for some time. I know all that 
can be learnt from subaltern spies ; from valets, 
courtiers, secretaries, and the intemperate tongue of 
Prince Henry ; but there are only two modes of influ- 
encing, — which are to give, or rather to give birth to, 
ideas in the master, or in his Ministers. In the mas- 
ter ! How, since he is not to be approached ? In 
the Ministers ! It is neither very easy nor very 
prudent to speak to them on public affairs, I not 
being in a public character; and the discussions 
which chance affords are short, vague, and incom- 
plete. If I am supposed capable of business, I ought 
to be sent to some place where I should have a pub- 
lic character. I am afraid I shall here cost more 
than I am worth. 

Count Goertz goes to Holland; I know not 
whether instead of Thulemeyer or ad tempus. He 
is followed by the son of Count Arnim, who is a 
young shoot for the corps diplomatique. Goertz is 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 119 

not a man without talents: when sent into Russia, 
under every kind of disadvantage, he obtained a good 
knowledge of the country; he is cold, dry, and 
ungracious; but subtle, master of his temper, though 
violent, and a man of observation. That he is of 
the English party is certain; he is loyal to Hertz- 
berg, and convinced that the alliance of Holland and 
France is so unnatural it must soon end. I own I 
think as he does, especially should we abuse our 
power. 

A new Ambassador is appointed, in petto, for 
France. I have not yet been able to discover who ; 
but Hertzberg supports the ridiculous Goltz with all 
his power. Schulemburg daily declines in favour. 
The maritime company have already lost their mon- 
opoly of coffee, of which there are four millions and 
a half pounds' weight consumed in the various 
provinces of the Prussian monarchy. Hence we 
may observe that the free use of coffee, which daily 
becomes general in Germany, is the cause that the 
consumption of beer is gradually and much less. 
The same company may be deprived of a prodigious 
profit on sugars; but it will be in vain to destroy 
old monopolies only to substitute new, though they 
should be for the profit of the King. 

The personal debts of His Majesty are paying off 
by the Minister, Blumenthal ; it is said there are 
tolerably great reductions made, but not unjustly. 



120 SECRET COUET MEMOIRS. 

as I imagine, for there are no complaints on the 
subject. Exclusive of the Royal Treasury, Frederick 
II. has left savings so great that they will scarcely 
be absorbed by the personal debts of Frederick 
William II. It is said he will pay off his Italian 
opera, and everybody believes there will be a French 
opera instead. This certainly would be no trifling 
means of support to intrigue. 

The freedom of scrutiny is restored to the Acad- 
emy, and the Germans are henceforward to be 
admitted members. I regard the curatorship of 
this body as a favour conferred on, and a tolerable 
resource of power for, Hertzberg, who will be cura- 
tor by title, and president in reality. The presidency 
of the Academy is so truly ministerial that the late 
Frederick exercised it himself, after the decease of 
the restless and morose De Maupertuis. Count 
Hertzberg said to me, at Court, " You are a 
compliment in my debt." " On what occasion ? " 
" I am curator of the Academy ; which title gives 
me greater pleasure, and, in my opinion, is more 
honourable than a riband." Forty persons heard our 
discourse. "Certainly," replied I, "he who is the 
minister of knowledge may well be called the Prime 
Minister." 

The King will not ruin himself in gifts ; he has 
hitherto bestowed only prebendaries, which cost him 
nothing, except a pension of three hundred crowns, 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 121 

on General Levald. I am informed that he has 
just granted on5 of eight hundred crowns — to the 
poet Rammler. It would perhaps have been more 
delicate not to have begun by pensioning fame, and 
her trumpet. 



LETTER XIX. 

September 2d, 1786. 

All circumstances confirm my predictions. Prince 
Henry and his nephew have almost quarrelled. The 
uncle is inconsolable, and thinks of retiring to 
Rheinsberg. He will almost certainly return during 
the journey of the King through Prussia and Silesia. 
Probably we shall have no great changes before the 
Monarch has performed these journeys, if then. 
There is one, however, beside those I have before 
spoken of, which is remarkable ; and that is, a 
commission to examine the administration of the 
customs, — what is to be abrogated, what preserved, 
and what qualified, especially in the excise. 

M. Werder, a Minister of State, and the intimate 
friend of Hertzberg, the enemy of Schulemburg who 
brought him into place, and father-in-law to the 
secretary of the English embassy, or perhaps to his 
wife, is at the head of this commission. The other 
members are ridiculously selected; but the very 
project of such a reform is most agreeable to the 
nation; as much so as the pension of eight hun- 
dred crowns granted to the poet Rammler, and 

122 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 123 

the promise of admission of Germans into the Acad- 
emy, is to the distributors of renown. It remains 
to be seen whether the people have not been led to 
hope too much; and whether it is not requisite to be 
certain of substitutes, previous to the promise of relief. 
The King goes to Prussia attended by Messieurs 
Hertzberg (for the King to be attended by a Minister 
out of his department is unexampled), Goltz, sur- 
named the Tartar, Boulet, a French engineer. Gen- 
eral Goertz, Gaudi, and Bishopswerder. 

This Goltz the Tartar is he who, in the last cam- 
paign of the Seven Years' War, raised an insurrection 
of fifty thousand Tartars, in the Crimea and the 
neighbouring countries ; who were marching to make 
a diversion in favour of the King of Prussia, and had 
arrived at Bender, when peace was concluded. Not- 
withstanding this, Goltz can boast of but little abili- 
ties ; except that he is a good officer, and ardently 
active. He was indebted for his great and singular 
success to a Dutchman named Biskamp, whom he 
met with in the Crimea. He attached himself to 
this very able and enterprising man, who understood 
the language, knew the country, and served Frederick 
n. according to his wishes ; by whom, indeed, he was 
well paid. This Biskamp is at Warsaw, and there 
forgotten, which is very strange. I have supposed 
the relating this anecdote, which is but little known, 
might be interesting. 



124 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

Boulet is an honest man, for whom the King shews 
some affection, and to whom he is indebted for all he 
knows concerning fortification. 

General Goertz is the brother of the Goertz who is 
going to Holland, but not his equal ; he is artful 
and subtle, and his good faith is of a suspicious 
complexion. 

Gaudi is the brother of the celebrated general of 
the same name ; little known hitherto as the Minister 
of the Prussian department, but capable, well-in- 
formed, firm, decided, and indubitably the man most 
proper to influence interior arrangements in recon- 
structing the grand directory. 

Bishopswerder you are acquainted with; he and 
Boulet each lately received the commission of lieu- 
tenant-colonel. 

The King has told Schulemburg that, on his return 
from Prussia, he will determine which of his nine 
departments he shall be deprived of. He and his 
wife are the only ministerial family who are not 
invited to Court. The probabilities all are that 
Schulemburg will demand leave to resign, should his 
colleagues continue to humble him, and the King to 
treat him with contempt. But Struensee probably 
will keep his place, and he then proposes to act, in 
concert with us, in our public funds ; especially should 
the King, as is apparent, commit to his charge the 
four millions of crowns which he means to set apart, 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 125 

for the operations of previous finance. Struensee is 
the only man who understands them. This is a subject 
not to be neglected, as it hitherto has been, even so 
far as to render it impossible for me to act with pro- 
priety. We might profit by him, during peace ; but 
if unfortunately the news which is whispered be true, 
concerning the increasing ill-health of the Elector of 
Bavaria, depend upon war, for I then hold it inevi- 
table. Is this a time for us to exist from day to day, 
as we do, when each month (for there is a probabil- 
ity, at any time, that he should die within a month) 
menaces all Europe with inextricable confusion ? 

M. de Larrey, sent from the Stadtholder to compli- 
ment the King, openly affirms it is impossible the 
disputes of Holland should be appeased without effu- 
sion of blood; and the speculations of Hertzberg 
upon this subject are boundless ; but the secret is well 
kept by those who surround the King. 



LETTER XX. 

TO THE DUG DE 



September 2d, 1786. 

By what fatality, monseigiieur, has it happened 
that I have not received your letter, dated the six- 
teenth, till this day ? And, still more especially, why 
was it not written some weeks sooner ? The impor- 
tance of the proposition with which it concludes will 
never be fully understood ; and which, made at any 
other time, except when the King was dying, would 
have been willingly accepted. It will never be 
known, had it been presented soon enough, how 
much it might have effected, impeded and indicated, 
relative to a Prince whose understanding perhaps is 
not great, but who possesses gratitude, and who will 
much more certainly be an honest man than a great 
King ; so that his heart rather than his mind ought 
to have been appealed to ; and that at a time when 
he was far otherwise accessible than at present, — 
walled in, as he is, by system and intrigue. How 
does it happen that you are the only person of the 
country you inhabit who conceived this plan ? How 
could the Cabinet of Versailles give up the merit of 

U6 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 12T 

offering trifling sums to Serilly ? How could it per- 
mit the Duke of Courland to secure the claim of 
having hushed the loud cries of creditors to silence ? 
How impolitic and disastrous are the sordid views, 
the confined plans, and short-sighted prudence of cer- 
tain persons ! In what a situation would such an act 
have placed us, as it would me personally, in his 
opinion ! All things then would have been possible, 
would have been easy to me. But of this we must 
think no more ; we must only remember this is a 
new proof that reason is always on your side. 

Since the death of the King I have sent supplies of 
information to your Cabinet, respecting the AuUc 
phases* and my despatch of to-day, a great part of 
which no doubt our common friend will read to you, 
is a statement, according to the best of my abilities, 
of present and future contingencies. You will there 
perceive that Prince Henry has accomplished his own 
destiny ; that his trifling character has, on this occa- 
sion, weighty as it was, been stranded on the rock of 
his excessive vanity, as it has before so often been ; 
that he has at once displayed an excessive desire 
of power, disgusting haughtiness, insupportable ped- 
antry, and a disdain of intrigue, at the same time that 
his conduct was one continuation of petty, low, dirty 
cabal ; that he has despised the people in power, 
while he himself is surrounded only by those who are 

* Court changes, or appearances. 



128 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

evidently either foolish, knavish or contemptible, — 
one sole man, Baron Knyphausen, excepted, and he 
is in daily danger of being carried off by apoplexy ; 
that, in fine, no man can be more out of favour, and 
particularly out of confidence, or can have put him- 
self into a situation in which confidence and favour 
will be more difficult to regain. 

I therefore persist in my opinion that the Duke of 
Brunswick, who is master of himself, by no means 
ostentatious, and who is possessed of profound talents, 
will be the man, — not of the present moment, but of 
the moment of necessity. My reasons are numerous, 
and so deduced as, in my opinion, not to admit of 
contradiction, the order of events and circumstances 
which I see and foresee considered. All this does 
but render the execution of your project the more 
necessary, and which I regard as very practicable, 
with some small exceptions, if executed by the per- 
sons in whom you ought to confide, — should you, 
with your natural dexterity, and irresistible seduc- 
tion, pursue the plan of interesting the vanity of the 
Master, so as to make it his own act, and, as you 
have so well expressed it, that it shall be he himself 
who shall inform his Ministers of his intentions. 

I repeat, your project is the more immediately 
necessary because that England cabals, with great 
industry, in her own behalf, under the pretence of 
the interests of Holland, which are very much at 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 129 

heart, in the Cabinet of Berlin. I own that what I 
have often insinuated here, namely, that the Prussian 
power is not sufficiently consolidated, and that, if 
opposed to stand the shock of France and Austria 
combined, it must be reduced to powder, is a proposi- 
tion not so unanswerable but that, thanks to Russia, 
there are many objections to be made ; and so there 
always will be, even in suppositions the most unfa- 
vourable to Prussia. 

1. Because this would but be commencing a de- 
plorable career of sanguinary contentions, under the 
direction of the Emperor, who is so little able to direct 
that he may be affirmed to be the least military of men. 

2. That the utmost success would leave a Prince 
without counterpoise in Europe, who has claims and 
pretentions of every kind. 

Lastly, and more especially, this would be pain- 
fully to seek that which the nature of events spon- 
taneously offers ; like as spring makes the apparently 
dry and sapless tree bud and bloom. 

There are some errors in ciphering, which are the 
cause that I do not perfectly understand the grounds 
of your dissension with me, concerning the maritime 
system ; but I too well know the extreme justness 
of your mind, which does not remain satisfied with 
phantoms, to imagine our opinions are very opposite.^ 
And, for my own part, I have never pretended to say 
that we ought not to maintain a navy which should 



130 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

make our commerce respected. The question to de- 
termine is, What ought the extent of this com- 
merce to be, which is to be effectually protected? 
You, like me, perceive that no alliance with England 
can be solidly established but by a commercial treaty, 
which should have exact, clear, and distinct lines of 
demarcation ; for, were unlimited freedom of trade 
permitted, they would be the sufferers. How might 
they support the rivalship ? And, if we do not cut 
away the voracious suckers from the root of the tree, 
how shall we prevent the Indies and Antilles from 
eternally continuing the apple of discord ? 

Be this as it may, monseigneur, do not suffer your- 
self to be discouraged or disgusted by difficulties. 
Ascend the height with a firm though measured step, 
and with inflexible constancy. You have found the 
only unbeaten track which, in these times, can lead 
to political fame, and which best may tend to the 
pacification of the earth. How admirable is it to 
unite the talents of the hero, the principles of the 
sage, and the projects of the philosopher ! By a 
single diplomatic act to reverse all the obsolete 
forms, all pitiable rubrics, all the destructive arts of 
modern politics, would be to gain no vulgar crown ; 
and a prospect so magnificent must be a most power- 
ful support to your fortitude. 

I need not repeat how much I am devoted to you, 
or how entirely you may dispose of me. 



LETTER XXI. 

September 5th, 1786. 

It is impossible that I should send you intelligence 
more exact, concerning the situation of Prince Henry 
with the King, than that which my preceding letters 
contain. The Prince himself no longer conceals the 
truth ; and, like all weak men, passing from one 
extreme to the other, he clamourously affirms the 
country is undone; that priests, blockheads, prosti- 
tutes, and Englishmen are hastening its destruction ; 
and, by the intemperance of his language, confirms 
what the indiscretion of Chevalier d' Oraison, and 
the personal confidence of the uncle to the nephew, 
when he was only Prince of Prussia, probably before 
but too certainly told Frederick William II. I 
repeat, he has completed his disgrace, in the private 
estimation of the King. It is my opinion that, if he 
may be permitted, he will either quit this country, in 
which he has not one friend, one parasite, except in 
the most subaltern and abject class, or will become 
insane, or will die ; such is my augury. 

Not that I am convinced that the administration 

131 



132 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

must always be committed to subalterns. The King 
has too much dread of seeming to be governed not 
to have the necessity of being governed. Why 
should he be the first man who should pretend 
to be what he is not ? Frederick II., who by nature 
was so perfectly designed to govern, never testified 
a fear of being governed; he was certain of the 
contrary. The present King fears he shall, and 
therefore shall be. While public affairs are trans- 
acted separately, he will not seem to be ; for nothing 
is more easy in this country than to receive and 
to pay. The machinery is so wound up that the 
surplus of revenue is great indeed. It is easy to 
pay some attention to detail, to keep watch over 
the police, to make some subordinate changes, and 
to coquet with the nation. And here be it said, 
by the way, there seems a determination of humbling 
the vanity of foreigners; so that, as I have always 
affirmed, the gallomania * of Prince Henry has been 
very prejudicial to us. Some good will be done; 
for it is not here as in other kingdoms, where the 
passing from evil to good is sometimes worse than 
evil itself, and where there is terror in resistance. 
All is here done ad nutum. Beside, the cords are 
so stretched they cannot but relax; the people have 
been so oppressed, have suffered such vexation, such 
extortion, that they must find ease. All will pro- 

* Enthusiasm in favour of France. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 133 

ceed, therefore, and almost without aid, while foreign 
politics shall continue calm and uniform ; but, when- 
ever a gun is fired, or even at the first lowering 
storm, with what a petty crash will this scaffolding 
of mediocrity come to the ground! How will these 
subaltern Ministers shrink, from the slave at the 
oar to the terrified steersman ? How will they call 
for a pilot's aid ? 

Who must be this pilot? The Duke of Bruns- 
wick. Of this I have no doubt. Every little acci- 
dent, in the day of trouble, is only an additional 
aptitude to fear. Beside that, the Prince is, of all 
men, he who best can conduct little vanity ; he 
will satisfy himself with appearing the servant of 
servants ; the most polite, the most humble, and 
indubitably the most adroit of courtiers ; while, at 
the same time, his iron hand will fetter all paltry 
views, all trifling intrigues, all inferior factions. 
Such is the horoscope I draw; nor do I think, 
at present, one more rational can be erected. 

Hertzberg is the man who must be managed in 
the State ; and for this Comte d' Esterno is not 
qualified, because he formerly deserted him too 
much ; and he well perceived it would have been 
indelicate and stupid to have veered too suddenly. 
Hertzberg, however, may ruin himself by his boast- 
ing, and even by his ostentation. This is a mode of 
effecting the fall of Ministers which the courtiers 



134 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

will not fail to employ because of the character of 
the King, and which may succeed. 

But Holland and her convulsions are the subject of 
present consideration. There is a conviction that we 
can do what we please; and, though I am far from 
thinking this to be incontrovertible, I still think that, 
were we to say to the party that has gained so much 
ground, probably from a conviction that we were 
ready to march up to their support (for how would 
they have dared to make themselves responsible if 
they had possessed no securities for such future con- 
tingencies as may be expected ?) I repeat, were we 
to say, you must go no further, we should be obeyed. 
It will be supposed, I neither pretend nor wish to 
give advice. I am too far removed from truth, which 
I can only inspect through the magnifying glass of 
passion ; and Comte d' Esterno informs me of noth- 
ing ; but I can distinctly perceive that the hurricane, 
which is forming in those marshes, may extend to 
other countries. The French embassy of Berlin will 
not say thus much to you, because they do not see 
things in the same light, but are persuaded that the 
interest of the brother will have no influence on the 
connections of the King. Of this I doubt, and have 
good reason so to doubt. Hertzberg is wholly Dutch, 
for it is the only decent manner in which he can be 
English ; and he may greatly influence foreign poli- 
tics, although he does not understand them. As, the 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 135 

other day, he was rehearsing his eternal repetition 
of — The King will be the pledge of the Stadt- 
HOLDER — I said to him, " I respect the King too 
much to ask who shall be the pledge of the pledge; 
but I dare venture to ask — Row will the King make 
his pledge respected P What shall happen when France 
shall demonstrate that the Stadtholder has broken 
engagements entered into under her sanction ? The 
King is not the brother-in-law of Holland; and the 
affair of Naples is sufficient proof that family inter- 
ventions may be eluded ? What can the King accom- 
plish against Holland ? And is he not too equitable 
to require us, who cannot wish that the Dutch should 
become English, to risk our alliance for the knight- 
errant of the English ? " To all this Hertzberg, 
who beholds nothing on this sublunary earth but 
Hertzbeeg and Prussia, made vague replies ; but, at 
the words, " What can the King accomplish against 
Holland ? " he muttered, with a gloomy air, " Holland 
will not defy him, I believer Once again, beware of 
Holland ; where, by way of parenthesis, the English 
legation affirms that we have bought the town of 
Schiedam ; that M. de Calonne, in particular, inun- 
dates the country with gold ; and, in a word, that he 
is personally the brand of discord. 

I have reserved the questions with which your 
letter begins, to conclude with; first, because they 
relate to affairs the least pressing, since it appears 



136 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

impossible that the Emperor should make any at- 
tempts on Turkey in Europe before the coming spring ; 
and next, it was necessary I should previously recollect 
myself; the concurring circumstances of the death of 
the King, and the accession of Frederick William, 
being the subjects which have almost exclusively 
demanded my attention, and induced me to defer 
more distant objects to future consideration. Still, I 
fear mine is a barren harvest, Prussia not having any 
continued intercourse with these wide lying comitries, 
which are more than four hundred leagues distant; 
for she has neither any great merchant, nor any sys- 
tem of politics, because the corps diplomatique of 
Prussia is extremely deficient. 

As to those individuals that are met with in 
society, they are ignorant, and can afford no informa- 
tion. Buckholz, the Prussian envoy to Warsaw, a 
man of ordinary capacity, but active, and Huttel, who 
is in the same capacity at Petersburg, an intelligent 
person, write word that Russia is more pacific than 
Turkey, and that the internal Ottoman provinces call 
for war. The frontier provinces, appertaining to the 
Tartars, certainly are not friendly to Russia. Molda- 
via and Wallachia are governed by Hospodars, who, 
being Greeks, most certainly are sold to whoever will 
purchase them, consequently to Russia. The Em- 
peror deceives them, and is hated there, as elsewhere. 
I shall speak further of this, and shall endeavour to 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 137 

give a sketch of a journey along the frontiers of 
these countries, which should be undertaken in the 
disguise of a trader, and kept rigidly secret, by which 
the state of the frontiers, the magazines, the propen- 
sities of the people, etc., etc., might be known, and 
what is to be hoped or feared, if it be found neces- 
sary to arm (in which case it is very probable Prus- 
sia would voluntarily aid us with all her powers), — 
that is to say if the Emperor should determine to pay 
no respect to our remonstrances, as he has twice done 
before. 

Perhaps I might be more useful employed in such 
a journey than at Berlin, where at every step I tread 
on danger, and shall so continue to do, unless I have 
credentials, at least as an assistant ; which perhaps 
would be the more proper, because it sometimes 
happens that such an interlocutor is spoken to with 
greater freedom than an Ambassador ; for the re- 
fusals he meets, or the proposals he makes, have no 
ministerial consequences ; and thus each party gains 
information, without either being offended. 

Pay serious attention to this, I request. In vain 
you recommend me to act privately ; permit me to 
inform you that, in despite of all my efforts, this is 
impracticable. I have too much celebrity, too much 
intercourse with Prince Henry, who is a true Joan 
of Arc, and who has no secrets of any kind. I am 
made to speak when I am silent; and when I say 



138 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

anything it is unfaithfully repeated. It is impossible 
to conceive all that has been attributed to me since 
the King's death; that is to say, since an epocha 
when I have taken advantage of the interruption of 
social meetings to keep myseK recluse, and to labour 
only by mining. Comte d' Esterno discredits me all 
in his power. The English embassy exclaims 
" Fcenum hahet in cornu, longe fugeP The favour- 
ites keep me at a distance ; the wits, the priests, and 
the mystics have formed a league, etc., etc. Each 
fears an invasion of his domains, because my real 
business is not known. I cannot remain and be of 
any utility, unless you shall find means to inform 
Count Finckenstein that I am only a good citizen 
and a good observer; but that these I am, and 
that I am authorised to give my opinion. I cannot 
doubt but that this Minister is very desirous these 
few words should be said. I am, however, in con- 
science obliged to repeat, the part I have to play 
daily becomes more difficult and more invidious ; and 
that, in order to be truly useful, I must have some 
character given me, or be employed elsewhere. 

Prince Henry at present reads his recantation ; he 
again pretends Hertzberg has received his death- 
blow, and that his downfall will be instantaneous. 
He relates miracles of the Duke of Brunswick, and 
flatters himself that he shall, soon or late, have great 
influence — "He will be in no haste. He will ply to 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 139 

windward six months." He affirms the English proj- 
ects are absolutely abortive. Hertzberg, he is con- 
fident, acts as if he had lost all miderstanding, and 
precisely as if he, Prince Henry, had counselled him, 
in order to render his fall more headlong, etc., etc., 
etc. In fine, his discourse is a mixture of enthusi- 
asm and rhodomontade, of presumption and anxiety ; 
a flux of words that confirm nothing; or of half 
phrases without any determinate meaning, except of 
exaggeration and tumour. Hence, it is difficult to 
conjecture whether he deceives himself or wishes to 
deceive ; whether he maintains the cause of vanity, 
feasts on illusion, or if he has recently any ray of 
hope ; for, as I have said, it is not impossible but that 
Hertzberg, by his boasting, should effect his own 
ruin. Prince Henry presses me to request the Court 
to send me some credentials, while the King shall be 
in Prussia and Silesia ; or, at least, to write concern- 
ing me to Count Finckenstein, by whom the intelli- 
gence may be communicated to the King. 

No change in the new habits of the Monarch. 
Madame Rietz has been but once to see him ; but, 
on Saturday last, he wrote to his natural son by that 
woman, and directed his letter : " To my son Alex- 
ander, Count de la Marche." * He has ennobled, 
and even made a Baroness of the mistress of the 
Margrave of Schwedt (Baroness of Stoltzenberg, 

* Meaning one of the Marches of Brandenburg. 



140 SECRET COURT MEMOIR& 

which is the title of a Barony, worth about eight 
thousand crowns a year, given her by the Margrave), 
who is nothing more than a tolerably pretty German 
girl, formerly an actress, by whom the Margrave has 
a son. It was not thought proper to refuse the only 
thing this old Prince of seventy - seven wished or 
could request. Perhaps, too, it was a pretext to do 
as much for Madame Rietz. The husband of this 
lady is erzkaemmerer,* a place nearly corresponding 
to that of first valet de chamhre, and treasurer of the 
privy purse ; but it is supposed he will do nothing 
more than get rich ; his wife hitherto has never had 
any serious influence. 

The Court Marshal, Ritwitz, having suddenly be- 
come raving mad, after a quarrel with one of the 
provision officers, Marwitz, who is a totally insignifi- 
cant person, has been proposed to the King. " He 
will do as well as another," replied the Monarch. 
Is this thoughtlessness, or is it fear of importance 
being annexed to a place which in reality but little 
merits importance ? This question it is impossible to 
answer. 

Lucchesini increases in his pretensions ; he de- 
mands a place in the finance or commercial de- 
partment; perhaps the direction of the Maritime 
Company, but this would be a very lofty stride. 
Annexed to wit and information, he has some qual- 

* Archchamberlain. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 141 

ities to which ambition is seldom allied; at most 
they will entitle him to become a member of the 
corps diplomatique, of which he is capable. I believe 
this Italian to be one of the most ardent in keeping 
me at a distance from the King, who will not indeed 
be easy of access before the winter. 

The commission of regulations has hitherto rather 
appeared a caustic than a healing and paternal rem- 
edy. There is much more talk of the sums the 
employment of which cannot be justified than of 
easing the excise. Yerder, the president, is beside 
known to be the personal enemy of some of the 
members of the tax administration. This, perhaps, 
has occasioned suspicions. Yerder, however, was 
proposed by the Duke of Brunswick, who, in fact, 
had need of his aid in some affairs that relate to his 
country. 

Hertzberg has certainly been in a storm, and the 
credit of Count Finckenstein appears to be aug- 
mented, though I confess the shade of increasing 
favour is scarcely perceptible. I persist in believing 
that Hertzberg is immovable, unless by his want of 
address. 



LETTER XXII. 

September 8th, 1786. 
The sixth, at a review of the artillery, I dis- 
mounted my horse to attend the King, in the front 
of the ranks. The Duke of Brunswick joined me; 
and, as we talked of mortars, bombs, and batteries, 
we gradually removed to a distance. As soon as we 
were alone, he began to speak to me of the prodig- 
ious knowledge I had of the country ; giving me to 
miderstand he had read my memorial to the King. 
He then reverted to the new reign, and suddenly 
afterward to foreign politics. Having entered at 
length into the subject, and spoken more than is 
necessary here to repeat, he added, " In God's name, 
arrange affairs in Holland; free the King of his 
fears. Must the Stadtholder never be other than 
ad Jionoresf You are in full credit there, and this 
credit you cannot lose ; if you did, the party by which 
you obtained it would be too much exposed to dan- 
ger. I repeat, put us at our ease, and I will answer 
on my head for everything else ; but use despatch, I 
conjure you. On Sunday I shall depart for Bruns- 
wick ; come and visit me, while the King is gone into 



THE COURT OF BERLIN, 143 

Silesia; we can converse freely there, and nowhere 
else. But write to your friends that they ought to 
exert all their influence to engage the French Min- 
istry to use moderation with the Prince of Orange, 
who cannot be proscribed without State convulsions. 
Things are not ripe for his abolishment; give him 
protection. France cannot render a greater service 
to Europe. What, is your Court yet to learn those 
forms which effect no change, but which give every 
support?" Here we separated, because the subject 
began to be too interesting. But tell me — ought I 
not to go to Brunswick ? 

To this I should add that Count Goertz has taken 
eight chasseurs with him, who are to convey letters 
to the frontiers of the Prussian States, in order that 
no despatches may be sent by land, nor pass through 
foreign hands. The Duke of Brunswick has repeated 
what Prince Henry had told me, and which I forgot 
to inform you of, that one of the principal motives 
for selecting Count Goertz was his former friendship 
with M. de Veyrac. 

From my conversation with the Duke, I conclude 
that he is or soon wiU be master of affairs ; and this 
explains the new fit of joy, hope, and presumption 
which has seized on Prince Henry, who has been per- 
suaded by the cunning Duke that, if he will but have 
patience, the sceptre will devolve on him ; and that 
he, the Duke, will be no more than high constable^ 



144 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

It is said Koenigsberg will be appointed Field-mar- 
shal. This, added to the smooth turn which the 
Duke has given discussions and pecuniary matters, 
has turned the Prince's brain, who told me the other 
day that " the Duke was the most loyal of men, and 
his best friend; that he owned a fortnight ago he 
was of a different opinion ; but that, etc." So that 
the metamorphosis has been produced within this 
fortnight. In truth, there is no real difference be- 
tween a fool and a man of understanding who thus 
can suffer himself to be deceived ; as little is there 
between a fool and a man of understanding who can 
be persuaded that a fool is a man of understanding. 
Both these things daily happen to Prince Henry. On 
the thirteenth he departs for Rheinsberg and is to 
return the day before the King. 

The fervour of the novice appears somewhat to 
abate. I have good reason to believe that Made- 
moiselle Voss is ready to capitulate, — ogling, fre- 
quent conversations (for the present assiduity at 
Schoenhausen is not paid to the Queen Dowager), 
presents accepted (a canonicate for her brother), and 
an attempt at influence. (It is she who placed Made- 
moiselle Yierey in the service of the Princess Fred- 
erica of Prussia.) To ask is to grant. Since the 
accession all circumstances denote how dazzling is 
the lustre of a diadem ; but so much the better, for 
her fall only can render her but little dangerous. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 145 

She is wholly English, and is not incapable of in- 
trigue. When we reflect that the credit of a Madame 
du Troussel had the power, under a Frederick II., to 
bestow places of importance, we may imagine what 
may happen under another King, as soon as it shall 
be discovered that intrigue may be employed at the 
Court of Berlin, as well as at other Courts. 

Madame Rietz yesterday received a diamond worth 
four thousand crowns; she will probably be put on 
the invalid list, with some money, and perhaps a 
title. 

Her son, at present, has publicly the title of Count 
de la Marche (or Count Brandenburg), and has a 
separate establishment. 

General Kalckstein, disgraced by the late King, 
and regretted by everybody, has received a regiment. 

At present, and till I hear other news relative to 
Berlin, accept the following important anecdote, 
which I think it necessary to send in the now 
doubtful state of the health of the Empress of 
Russia: About six years ago a young foreigner, 
and a gentleman, in the service of France, was 
presented to the Grand Duchess, by a lady who 
had been educated with her, and who has remained 
her intimate friend. It was the intention of this 
young gentleman to enter into the Russian service. 
He was presented to the Grand Duke by the Grand 
Duchess, who warmly solicited, and while he was 



146 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

present, a place for the youth in service of her 
husband. 

The young favourite, well -formed and handsome, 
often visited the Grand Duchess. Invited to her 
palace, feasted, distinguished, and continually receiv- 
ing new favours, he fell in love; of which the 
Grand Duchess was informed by his extreme con- 
fusion. One grand Court -day, at a masked ball, 
in the evening, she had him conducted by one of her 
women into an obscure apartment, and sufficiently 
distant from those where the Court was held. In a 
little time the conductress quitted him, and advised 
him to wait, and the Grand Duchess arrived in a 
black domino. She removed her mask, took the 
youth by the hand, led him to a sofa, and made him 
sit down by her side. The Grand Duchess then told 
him this was the moment for him to choose between 
the service of France and the service of Russia. A 
certain time, however, was allowed him to come to 
a decision. Coquetry and even caresses succeeded. 
Wavering, taken by surprise, distracted between love 
and fear, the youth behaved with excessive awkward- 
ness at the beginning of the interview. The Grand 
Duchess, however, encouraged him, inspired him with 
audacity, and made him every advance, till at length 
he vanquished his timidity, and indeed became very 

daring. 

To this scene of transports, adieus suddenly sue- 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 147 

ceeded, wliich partook as much of terror, and of des- 
potism, as of love. The Grand Duchess commanded 
the youth, in the most tender but the most absolute 
tone, to inform the Grand Duke that he could not 
accept the rank of captain, which was intended to be 
given him. She added that he must depart, instantly 
depart; and that his head must answer should the 
least circumstance transpire. She, at the same time, 
pressed him to demand some mark of remembrance. 
The terrified youth, confused and trembling, requested 
a black riband, which she took from her domino. 
He received the pledge, and so totally lost all recol- 
lection that he left the ball, and quitted Petersburg, 
without contriving any means of correspondence, 
arrangements for the future, or precautions of any 
kind, in favour of his fortune. In a few days he 
left Russia, travelling day and night, and did not 
write to the Grand Duke till he had passed the 
frontiers. He received a very gracious answer ; and 
here the affair ended. 

This person is returned to, and is now in, the 
service of France. He has little firmness, but does 
not want understanding. Were he guided he might 
certainly be useful ; at least, attempts might be made 
after so extraordinary an accident. But for this it 
would be necessary he should go to Russia before 
there is any change of Monarch, and should tempt 
his fortune, now that the Grand Duchess has not 



148 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

SO much fear. I am not personally acquainted 
with him, but I can dispose of his most intimate 
friend, in whom every dependence may be placed. I 
have not thought proper to name the hero of the 
romance, whom it is not necessary to know, unless it 
should be intended to afford him employment. If, 
on the contrary, it should be thought proper for 
him to pursue any such plan, I will name him 
instantly. 

The Elector of Bavaria is certainly not in good 
health; he may not live to see winter; and it 
is scarcely probable he will reach the spring. I 
shall go from hence to Dresden, that I may not 
appear to absent myself purposely for the Duke of 
Brunswick. I shall remain there seven or eight days, 
as long at Brunswick, and three or four weeks in the 
whole. My journey will be exactly of the same dura- 
tion as that of the King, in whose absence there is 
nothing to be learnt, and I shall certainly profit by 
my peregrinations, and learn more at Brunswick in a 
week than I should here divine in three months. 

My letter is too long to speak of Turkey in Europe. 
I doubt the Emperor cannot be prevented, if he is not 
destitute of all capacity, from marching any day he 
shall please to the mouth of the Danube ; but on the 
same day he must become the natural enemy of Rus- 
sia, who will find in his presence one too many on 
the Black Sea, and this may render the combined 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 149 

projects abortive. I am assured that Moldavia and 
Wallachia desire to be under the Emperor's Govern- 
ment. This I cannot believe, since his own peasants 
fly their country, and even go to Poland, rather than 
remain in his power. But the before mentioned 
provinces are absolutely unprotected, and I think no 
opposition can be made, except in Roumelia and Bul- 
garia. In fine, I believe we only, by promises or 
threats, are able to prevent the Emperor from labour- 
ing at this grand demolition. If we believe the 
rhodomontadoes of Petersburg, Russia is singly 
capable of the work. But, were she to attempt it, 
what would she be on the succeeding day ? You 
are not ignorant she has received some check; that 
Prince Heraclius has been obliged to desert her 
cause ; that she is once again reduced to defend 
Mount Caucasus as a frontier; that she cannot at 
present march into the heart of the Ottoman terri- 
tories; and that perhaps this would be the best 
moment for recovering the Crimea. Should all these 
particulars be true, and these conjectures well 
founded, it is impossible that I should know any 
one of them so perfectly as you do yourself. 

The dispute, relative to the bailliage of Wuster- 
hausen, has been very nobly ended by the King. He 
has retaken it, but has made an annual grant of fifty 
thousand crowns to Prince Henry, seventeen thou- 
sand of which the latter is obliged to pay Prince 



150 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

Ferdinand. The bailliage does not produce more 
than about forty-three thousand. 

Prince Ferdinand at present recants the renuncia- 
tion to the Margraviate of Anspach. As it is known 
that Prince Ferdinand has no will of his own, it is 
evident he receives his impulse from Prince Henry, 
and the more so, because this is the manet altd mente 
repostum against Coimt Hertzberg. It would be diffi- 
cult to imagine anything more silly, or better calcu- 
lated eternally to embroil him with the King. 

I have always regarded the singularity of Roman- 
zow, of not going into mourning, and his violence 
with Count Finckenstein concerning not sending a 
complimentary envoy to Petersburg, which occasioned 
the Count to demand whether he had orders from his 
Court to speak in such a style, as the effervescence of 
a young man; especially since Baron Reeden, the 
Dutch envoy, did not likewise go into mourning from 
economy, which shews it was not considered as a 
matter of any great importance. As these debates 
very ridiculously occupied the corps diplomatique for 
a week ; and as the Comte d' Esterno, who has con- 
ducted himself well on the occasion, must have men- 
tioned it, I thought it to no purpose to write on the 
subject. But as Romanzow, of all the foreign Am- 
bassadors, did not attend the funeral at Potsdam, this 
mark, either of thoughtlessness or dissatisfaction, 
was felt; and, the time necessary to receive orders 



THE COURT OF BERLIN". 151 

being past, I send information of the fact, to which I 
do not, however, pay so much attention as the good 
people in the pit, though it has greatly displeased the 
boxes. The Cabinet of Berlin must long have known 
that friendship, on the part of Russia, is hopeless till 
the accession of the Grand Duke ; but it is impossible 
to butt with more force, or greater disrespect, than 
Eomanzow has done. 



LETTER XXIII. 

September 10th, 1786. 

The following are some particulars concerning 
what happened, on the day of interment, at Potsdam. 

The King arrived at seven o'clock. At half-past 
seven he went with the Princesses Frederica and 
Louisa of Brunswick, the young ladies Knisbec, Voss, 
etc., to see the chamber of Frederick. It was small, 
hung with violet - coloured cloth, and loaded with 
ornaments of black and silver. At the far end was 
an alcove, on which the coffin was placed, under the 
portrait of the hero. This coffin was richly orna- 
mented with cloth of silver, laced with gold. Toward 
the head was a casque of gold, the sword that Fred- 
erick wore, his military staff, the riband of the Black 
Eagle, and gold spurs. Bound the coffin were eight 
stools, on which were placed eight golden cushions, 
meant to sustain : 

1. The crown. 

2. The golden globe and cross. 

3. The gold box containing the seal. 

4. The electoral cap. 
6. The sceptre. 

152 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 163 

6. The order of the Golden Eagle, of diamonds 
and other precious stones. 

7. The royal sword. 

8. The royal hand. 

The balustrade was hung with violet - coloured 
velvet. A splendid glass chandelier was in the 
centre, and on each side was a mutilated pyramid 
of white marble veined with black ; that is to 
say, of white cloth, marbled with great art. The 
chamber appeared to me to want light. 

His Majesty afterwards passed into the canopy 
salon, hung with black, and adorned with plates 
of silver from the Berlin palace ; and next into 
the grand hall, hung with black. Eight artificial 
black columns had been added to this immense 
hall. Its only embellishments were garlands of 
cypress, and here again there was too little light. 

In about half an hour the King returned to his 
apartments ; and, at half - past eight. Prince Henry, 
Prince Ferdinand, and the Duke of Brunswick 
came to see the same apartments, where they only 
remained five minutes. 

At a quarter - past nine the King went to Prince 
Henry. The regiments of guards formed under 
their windows. The canopy was brought; it was 
of black velvet, surrounded by cloth of gold, and 
laced with a crape fringe. On the cloth of gold 
were black eagles. Twelve posts, covered with 



154 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

velvet, supported the canopy ; and over them were 
twelve silver eagles, each a foot 'high, which pro- 
duced a good effect. 

After the canopy came the state coach* ; very 
large, very low, hung with white satin edged with 
gold fringe, and drawn by eight horses covered 
with black velvet. 

To the state coach succeeded a chariot, in black 
velvet, on which was a black crown, drawn by eight 
cream-coloured horses, in black velvet harness, 
on which were fixed black eagles, embroidered 
in gold. The livery servants, chamber lackeys, 
heydukes, running footmen, huntsmen, and pages 
followed. 

The Princesses, ushered by Messieurs Goertz and 
Bishopswerder, were at church. 

At ten o'clock the procession began. The place 
of assembly was the grand hall with the eight 
columns. A gentle descent had been made from 
the grand canopy to the door, to which the state 
coach was drawn up to receive the coffin. The 
road from the palace to the church was planked, 
and covered with black cloth. The procession was 
truly superb, and conducted with great order. 
The troops formed two lines. 

The church was illuminated with wax candles 
and small lamps ; and the coffin was deposited 

• Corbillard. Perhaps the word is here used to signify a hearse. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 155 

Tinder a cupola, supported by six pillars of white 
marble. The organ began to play and the funeral 
service was performed, which continued half an 
hour. The return was not disorderly, but it was 
not made in procession. 

When the guests came back to the palace, the 
tables were ready spread, and the courses were 
served up at noon. The guests rose from table 
at half -past one. The King, Prince Henry, the 
Duke of Brunswick, and the Princesses, went to 
Sans-Souci. Such was the manner in which the 
morning was spent. 

There was no comparison to be drawn between 
this and the funerals of the Church of Notre Dame 
with respect to magnificence, taste, or splendour ; 
but they did everything that could be done, the 
country and the time considered. 

There was much order from the commencement 
to the close. The music was indifferent, had no 
effect, no energy, no charm, and was ill executed, 
— not one good voice, Concialini excepted, who did 
not sing well. 

The tables were well supplied, the viands abundant 
and select, the servants numerous and orderly. Each 
of the aides - de - camp general did the honours of a 
table. French, Rhenish, and Hungarian wines were 
served in profusion. 

The King, going to table, led Prince Henry. On 



156 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

every occasion His Majesty saluted with dignity. 
His countenance was neither serious nor too cheerful. 

He testified his satisfaction to Reck, who replied 
that Captain Gonthard had regulated the whole ; and 
that he had no other merit except that of having 
procured him everything of which he stood in need. 

The King wore the grand uniform of the guards. 
The Princes were booted. Prince Goethen had 
mourning spurs, which was remarked. 

The King went and returned in company only with 
the Duke of Brunswick. 



LETTER XXiy. 

September 12th, 1786. 

The King departs to-morrow. The order of his 
journey has undergone no change. He will be back 
on the 28th, and again set out on the 2d for Sile- 
sia. I shall probably have a good opportunity, on his 
return, to speak of finance and of substitutes. Previ- 
ous to this, Panchaud must absolutely unite with me 

to form a good plan of speculating in our funds 

good for the finances, and in particular good for the 
King who is to be allured. Remember the impor- 
tance of this Monarch. 

Bishopswerder increases in credit, which he care- 
fully conceals. Welner, a subaltern creature, endowed 
with understanding, management, and knowledge of 
interior affairs, — a mystic when mysticism was neces- 
sary to please, and cured of his visions since the King 
has required these should be kept secret, — active, 
industrious, and, what is more, sufficiently obscure to 
be employed without creating jealousy, — Welner, I 
say, appears to gain prodigious influence. He has 
the qualities necessary to succeed, and even to outwit 
all his competitors.* 

* He is at present absolutely the principal Minister. 
157 



158 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

I again repeat, Boden ought not to be neglected, 
by the way of insinuation. He is vain, and should 
be capable of corruption ; for, always suspected of 
the most insatiable avarice and the basest means, he 
has lost a place of eight thousand German crowns by 
the death of the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, and, it is 
said, is driven to expedients. He corresponds with 
the King, and rather intimately; that which he 
should often repeat must produce an effect. He is 
the hero to slay Hertzberg, who, I may add, has not 
been successful concerning Holland, and, in despite 
of whom, Thulemer may still be recalled. 

Prince Henry still feeds on hopes. I have no 
doubt that he is cajoled by the Duke of Brunswick. 
But he is exactly at the same point, except that 
Hertzberg is not so powerful. The King intends 
Alvensleben for the French embassy; a man of high 
birth, sense, and wisdom, as it is affirmed. He is at 
Dresden. I shall endeavour to study him and shall 
take him letters. 

No person is satisfied ; civil and military, courtiers 
and Ministers, all pout. I imagine they expected 
it would rain gold. I have nothing to add to my 
prognostics, which may be reduced to this alterna- 
tive: the nation sacrificed, while affairs continue 
tranquil, that we may persuade ourselves we govern ; 
the Duke of Brunswick, should perils intervene, and 
the storm begin to blow. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 159 

In the name of business and of friendship, do not 
forget a plan of operations for finance. Schulem- 
burg is supported, and I have reasons to believe he 
will not be dismissed. Should I acquire influence in 
finance, I would not be his enemy. He will be more 
serviceable than any other. Baron Knyphausen only 
excepted, who will never be anything while Hertz- 
berg is in power. 

Remember that you have an incapable envoy in 
Bavaria, and that this will become an embassy of 
importance at the death of the Elector. If it be 
meant to place me, which must be meant if I am to 
eerve, had not I best make my first appearance here ? 



LETTER XXY. 

Dresden, September 16th, 1786. 

I SHALL say nothing particular to you yet of this 
country, as you may suppose, for who can run and 
read ? Beside, I find the inconvenience of having no 
credentials, and, consequently, have not been able to 
speak with propriety on affairs, except in very gen- 
eral and metaphorical terms. 

Stuterheim, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, with 
whom I have dined, is said to be a very well, a laby- 
rinth of secrecy, and it follows that his subalterns are 
exceedingly reserved. The Ministers here rather give 
in their reports than act. " Give in their reports " is 
the consecrated phrase. But I have been so well 
convinced by what I have seen under Frederick II., 
that the King, who governs most himself, is so little 
the master, and is so infinitely deceived, that I am 
perfectly aware of the degree of credit which these 
Court dicta deserve. 

I have seen Alvensleben. Should he go to France, 
I do not think he will live long. He is worn out, 
and only keeps himself alive by extreme abstinence, 
and an almost total sequestration from society. He 

160 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 161 

is well acquainted with Germany, is said to act with 
prudence and propriety, is successful in what he 
undertakes, and has a good moral character. He is 
not, however, without art, and, perhaps, he wishes to 
be cunning. He is not precisely the man for France, 
but he is a specimen of the fruit of the country, and, 
for any other use, is some of the best it produces. I 
imagine you will find him agreeable. 

I shall endeavour to get into the currency of the 
country, but, I repeat, while I shall have no creden- 
tials, and am left so much in ignorance concerning 
home affairs, I shall be much more proper to collect 
literary and written opinions than for any other 
business ; and the thoughts of men are not written in 
their faces. Nor do you, for example, find in any 
book that a Prime Minister has confided his eldest 

son, on his travels, to such a blockhead as G , or 

to a Chevalier du Vivier, who never utters a word 
that he does not utter an absurdity, and, perhaps, 
some that are dangerous. But why has he related 
that he waited at Hamburg five weeks for permis- 
sion to take the Vicomte de Yergennes to Berlin, on 
occasion of the accession of the King, and that this 
was refused? Is he afraid that they should be in- 
sensible at Berlin of the affectation of having avoided 
that Court ? I should never finish were I to cite all 
the incoherencies he utters, the least of which is 
ridiculous in the extreme. 



162 SECRET COUET MEMOIRS. 

In reality, if I am to commence as a subaltern in 
the diplomatic corps, I have no objection to Ham- 
burg, where, exclusive of the great intercourse of the 
commerce of the North, with which we are unac- 
quainted, and in which we do not sufficiently partici- 
pate, since we wish to have an envoy there, we ought 
to have an active person, instead of one from whom 
nothing is so desirable as that he should be deaf and 
dumb. 

The vast connections that are between the grand 
emporiums of trade are such that these posts are 
never things of indifference. Why do not they be- 
stow a sinecure on M. du Vivier ? 



LETTER XXVI. 

Dresden, September 19th, 1786. 

There are few men here, yet is the machine toler- 
ably well regulated ; nothing can better prove that 
order and constancy are more necessary for good gov- 
ernment than great talents. 

The extreme credit of Marcolini is to be regarded 
as a popular rumour. He is a favourite without 
ascendency (as without merit) at least in the Cabi- 
net ; his influence does not extend beyond the Court. 
At present he is in Italy, and the routine of affairs is 
the same. Probably some favours which pass through 
his hands, and which the excessive devotion of the 
Elector rather bestows on Catholics than on Luther- 
ans, are the real cause of these murmurs ; which, 
however, are sufficiently believed to occasion the 
Emperor to make a stupid blunder. He has sent here 
one of the silliest of Ambassadors — one O'Kelly, an 
Irishman — because Marcolini had married his niece ; 
He thought by this means to have governed every- 
thing ; but the trap was so palpably gross that no one 
has taken the trouble to remove the bait. 

163 



164 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

The Ministers who have real influence are Stuter- 
heim and Gudschmidt. The first is very infirm, but 
prudent, sage, and with understanding enough to 
know on what subjects he is ignorant, to ask infor- 
mation, and to consult others. He, however, draws 
near his end. The second does not shew himself to 
the world. It is affirmed that he is a man of the 
greatest merit; that he has infinite knowledge; that 
not a single pamphlet in any language throughout 
Europe escapes him ; that his judgment is sound, his 
understanding perspicuous and penetrating, and his 
temper communicative ; which last quality is in him 
the more compatible with discretion because he pos- 
sesses its piety without its superstitions. He ranks 
first in the confidence of the Elector; but it must 
be added he is sixty years of age, and has ill- 
health. 

Among the Ministers we must also enumerate 
M. Worm, a well-informed man, who possesses some 
principles of political economy, with information not 
very common on the general relations of commerce, 
together with industry, activity, and great quickness 
of apprehension ; but, as it is said, rarely with much 
justness of understanding. His moral character is 
suspected. He is accused of not keeping his hands 
pure from bribery ; but it is not the less true that he 
is of great service to internal government. He 
appeared to me to be artful, communicative, ironical, 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 166 

subtle, satirical and crafty, but very proper for 
business in all countries.* 

Of all the foreign Ambassadors, I believe M. Saft- 
zing, from Sweden, to be the only one above, or rather 
not below, mediocrity. I except the English envoy, 
who has the character of being an able man, but 
whom I have not yet any proper opportunity for 
examining. He is open and complaisant, even to 
affectation, considering that his character is English. 
If we except Alvensleben, not one of the remainder 
deserves the honour of being mentioned. 

The Elector is a man distinct from Princes in gen- 
eral, yet he appears to partake of the character of the 
King of England. The consistency of his mind, 
which is entire, has a small alloy of obstinacy. I 
spoke but little to him, because of the confusion of 
the dinner. Etiquette is observed at the table of the 
Elector; consequently I paid every care and atten- 
tion to seat M. de Vergennes near the Prince. He 
speaks with intelligence and precision, but his voice is 
harsh, sharp, and shrill. His dress and countenance 
seemed to indicate devout and wheedling, but acute 
and implacable, jealousy. The very ill education of 
the Electress, her noisy mode of speech, and her 
unreserved freedom, greatly occupy this Prince to his 

*No wonder governments, and consequently nations, are vicious, 
when such are supposed, even by men of considerable abilities, to be the 
proper qualities for governors. 



166 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

disadvantage ; for, beside that such kind of vigilance 
ever bears somewhat of the stamp of ridicule, his 
crabbed figure, rendered more disagreeable by a par- 
alytic affection of the eyes, becomes at such moments 
restless, disturbed and hideous. 

Such, and so ungracious, as he is here depicted, he 
is a Prince who, from many considerations, is worthy 
esteem and respect. Since the year 1763, his desire 
to do good, his economy, his indefatigable labours, 
his innumerable privations, his perseverance, and his 
industry, have not for a moment relaxed. He has 
paid all the personal debts of the Electors ; and is 
advanced in the liquidation of the debts of the State. 
He pursues his plans with inflexible punctuality. 
Slow, but not irresolute, difficult in accomplishing, 
but intelligent, with few resources at a first view, 
but possessed of aptitude and the gift of meditation, 
his only weakness arises from his religion, which yet 
does not occasion him to exaggerate his rights, or to 
neglect his duties. One step further and he would 
have been a bigot, and one step backward and he 
would no longer be a devotee. It is much to be 
doubted whether his confessor, Hertz, has the least 
influence, except in the distribution of some footmen's 
places. The Elector supports his Ministers with 
uncommon firmness, against all, and to all. In a 
word, but for him the country had been undone ; and, 
should he have the good fortune to see a duration of 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 167 

peace, he will render it very flourishing. Population 
visibly increases ; the annual surplus of births over 
deaths amounts to twenty thousand ; and the number 
of the people is less than two millions. Trade, which 
might be better, is not bad. The army imitates that 
of Prussia, over which it has the advantage of being 
purely national ; but, to say the truth. Saxony is the 
least military of all the provinces of Germany. Credit 
is good, and even great. The paper currency is at 
par, or nearly ; and the interest of money at four per 
cent. The Cabinet of Dresden is the only one in 
Europe which has adopted the true principles of coin- 
age. Agriculture is in a state of passable respecta- 
bility. Manufactures are free ; the rights of the 
people are uninfringed ; justice is impartially admin- 
istered ; in a word, all things considered, it is the 
most happy country in Germany. Yet this is a 
remarkable circumstance, and excites admiration 
when we recollect the terrible scourges * which have 
successively, and sometimes collectively, laid this 
fine, but ill-situated country, desolate. 

They are persuaded here that we instigate the 
Turk ; that there is a coolness between the two impe- 

* The principal scourges to which the author alludes, by the epithet 
of " iU-situated," are wars ; by which its sufEerings have indeed been 
dreadful. Charles V., the Thirty Years* War, Charles XII., and still more 
flagrantly the late Frederick, have been its tormentors. That it should 
recover, as it continually has recovered, from such periodical, such reno- 
vating destruction, is a fact remarkable in history, worthy the attention 
of the philosopher and the highest eulogium on the country. 



166 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

disadvantage ; for, beside that such kind of vigilance 
ever bears somewhat of the stamp of ridicule, his 
crabbed figure, rendered more disagreeable by a par- 
alytic affection of the eyes, becomes at such moments 
restless, disturbed and hideous. 

Such, and so ungracious, as he is here depicted, he 
is a Prince who, from many considerations, is worthy 
esteem and respect. Since the year 1763, his desire 
to do good, his economy, his indefatigable labours, 
his innumerable privations, his perseverance, and his 
industry, have not for a moment relaxed. He has 
paid all the personal debts of the Electors ; and is 
advanced in the liquidation of the debts of the State. 
He pursues his plans with inflexible punctuality. 
Slow, but not irresolute, difficult in accomplishing, 
but intelligent, with few resources at a first view, 
but possessed of aptitude and the gift of meditation, 
his only weakness arises from his religion, which yet 
does not occasion him to exaggerate his rights, or to 
neglect his duties. One step further and he would 
have been a bigot, and one step backward and he 
would no longer be a devotee. It is much to be 
doubted whether his confessor. Hertz, has the least 
influence, except in the distribution of some footmen's i 

places. The Elector supports his Ministers with i 

uncommon firmness, against all, and to all. In a 
word, but for him the country had been undone ; and, ;^ 

should he have the good fortune to see a duration of , 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 167 

peace, he will render it very flourishing. Population 
visibly increases ; the annual surplus of births over 
deaths amounts to twenty thousand ; and the number 
of the people is less than two millions. Trade, which 
might be better, is not bad. The army imitates that 
of Prussia, over which it has the advantage of being 
purely national ; but, to say the truth. Saxony is the 
least military of all the provinces of Germany. Credit 
is good, and even great. The paper currency is at 
par, or nearly ; and the interest of money at four per 
cent. The Cabinet of Dresden is the only one in 
Europe which has adopted the true principles of coin- 
age. Agriculture is in a state of passable respecta- 
bility. Manufactures are free ; the rights of the 
people are uninfringed ; justice is impartially admin- 
istered ; in a word, all things considered, it is the 
most happy country in Germany. Yet this is a 
remarkable circumstance, and excites admiration 
when we recollect the terrible scourges * which have 
successively, and sometimes collectively, laid this 
fine, but ill-situated country, desolate. 

They are persuaded here that we instigate the 
Turk ; that there is a coolness between the two impe- 

* The principal scourges to which the author alludes, by the epithet 
of " iU-situated," are wars ; by which its sufferings have indeed been 
dreadful. Charles V., the Thirty Years' War, Charles XII., and stiU more 
flagrantly the late Frederick, have been its tormentors. That it should 
recover, as it continually has recovered, from such periodical, such reno- 
vating destruction, is a fact remarkable in history, worthy the attention 
of the philosopher and the highest eulogium on the country. 



168 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

rial Courts; and that Russia is in want of men, 
money, and horses. It must be frankly owned that 
her bank operations have a gloomy appearance. It 
is supposed we shall endeavour, should it be abso- 
lutely necessary, to effect a diversion in Germany, 
without interfering, except by coming to the aid of 
those who should be too much exposed to danger. 
For no one imagines we shall suffer Germany to 
devolve on one single head, nor even to be divided 
between two. And, with respect to Turkey in 
Europe, it is thought that our interest, conjointly 
with that of England, will, by one means or other, 
avert the destruction with which it is menaced. 

On enquiry, I find the Elector of Bavaria has not 
properly had an attack. He has only changed his 
mistress ; and when he does so, he alters his regimen 
to excite venery. It happens on these occasions that 
he has nervous affections, which resemble false 
attacks, and which will some day bring on a para- 
lytic stroke. His life is not depended upon. 

The hostilities of the Stadtholder have produced an 
effect here greatly -* to his disadvantage. For my 
part, I do not think his affairs in so disastrous a state 
as they seem to be believed. Should we embroil 
province with province, we shall lose our advantages ; 
it will in vain be urged that the Stadtholder is master 
of Guelderland ; the nobility is numerous in that 
province, and they form a public opinion. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 169 

I send you the state of the military in the Electo- 
rate of Saxony, which is no secret ; but I shall also 
add, by the next courier, that of the public stores, 
which I procured by a singular accident, the particu- 
lars of which it would be useless here to relate. I 
shall only remark that the custom which the Elector 
has for several years adopted in his offices, of employ- 
ing supernumeraries without salaries, might give 
place to discovery, however well secrets may here be 
kept. 

I shall commit to M. de Yibraye, who is returning 
to Paris, all the minutes of my ciphers, well and 
duly sealed, and addressed to you. 

He does not expect to return hither, and has hopes 
of the Swedish embassy. 

May not the changes which will take place in the 
corps diplomatique, by the vacancy of M. d' Adh^mard, 
afford an opportunity of giving me something more 
agreeable and less precarious than a secret commis- 
sion, which must end, of course, with the life of a 
Minister who is hastening toward the grave ? I hope 
your friendship will not slumber. You must own 
others might act with less diligence. If you will 
take the trouble again to read my despatches as they 
are here sent, not in ciphers but correct, and will at 
the same time consider all the difficulties of various 
kinds that I have had to surmount, and the few 



170 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

means which my cloudy situation can afford, you will 
not be dissatisfied with my correspondence. Since, 
for example, Zelle has published the history of the 
King's disease, I have the satisfaction to perceive the 
information I sent you was exact. True it is that, 
under the late King, at the conclusion of so long a 
reign, a man knew to whom to address himself; 
whereas at present it is necessary to discover which 
are the doors at which you must knock. Yet I think 
I have given a passable picture of men and things. 
And what could I not effect of this kind, what could 
J not discover, had I credentials ? 



LETTER XXVII. 

Dresden, September 21st, 1786. 

I HAVE several times mentioned, and particularly 
in Numbers XI. and XIX., this Boden ; I can only 
refer you to the circumstances you will there find. 

As to the person named Dufour, whose real name 
is Chauvier, and who was a journeyman barber in 
France, had I thought it of any importance I should 
have spoken before and given his character at full ; 
for he is one of the circuitous paths pointed out 
to me by Prince Henry. He certainly had influence 
over the Heir Apparent, which he obtained : 

1. Because he was persecuted by the late King, 
by whom he had been expelled * ; so that, in order 
to return, he was obliged to take the name of Dufour, 
which is that of a family of the French colonists. 
And — 

2. That he might aid to banish the spleen. He 
often dined in private with the Prince, who was so 
familiar with him, some time before his accession, 

♦The author does not say whether from the Court or from the 
country. 

171 



172 SECRET COUET MEMOIRS. 

that when wearied with his discourse he would dryly 
bid him hold his tongue.* Dufour was one of those 
with whom I should have made myself intimate, had 
the King continued to live some time longer; and he 
was among the persons and things that occasioned 
me to project a journey to Potsdam. But death 
suddenly interposed, and I should have sought his 
intimacy too abruptly ; not to mention that subaltern 
influence has, on the King's accession, totally dis- 
appeared. 

The person named Chapuis is a man who is not 
deficient in understanding and address. He was 
born in French Switzerland. He is the governor 
of the natural son of the King, and the well - beloved 
of Madame Rietz. Thinking his acquaintance might 
be valuable in many respects, I consequently sought 
it, under the pretence of literature only ; but at pres- 
ent Chapuis has not in himself any one point of con- 
tact. To run after such people, so circumstanced, 
would but be to render myself suspicious to no 
purpose. I mentioned to you, on my return from 
Rheinsberg (Number XI), " I have numerous modes 
of communication, which will develop themselves as 
time and opportunity shall serve." But these have 
been retarded by the accession. Applications of this 

* It is not very clear, from the original, whether it was the Prince 
who bade Dufour, or Dufour who bade the Prince, hold his tongue. The 
word prisomtif, we believe, can only be applied to an Heir Apparent, or 
we should have reversed the reading. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 173 

secret kind can only be made in the depth of winter, 
and during the Carnival, with utility and safety. 

These, generally, are rather tools proper for a spy 
to work with than the engines of influence. Should 
such people ever have power over foreign politics, 
the puissance of Prussia must draw to a conclusion. 
This country must not be estimated by France ; there 
is not here the same margin in which to insert fol- 
lies, or to correct. And as in general man remains 
at that point where it is necessary he should be 
fixed, the King of Prussia will act with circumspec- 
tion in what relates to Foreign Affairs. 

Not that this should prevent us from recollecting 
that we ought to guard, with extreme caution, against 
a coalition between Prussia and Austria, for this 
system also is capable of defence. It is even the 
easiest of execution, and the most splendid; nor 
would Prince Henry be so averse to it as he himself 
supposes, should he perceive the least glimmering of 
hope. Hitherto, indeed, I have not noticed anything 
that could give suspicion, but I shall more carefully 
examine whatever might occasion such an event, on 
my return to Berlin. There can be little danger that 
I should become languid in the pursuit of this object, 
having four years ago published my fears of such an 
event, and having begun to send my static tables of 
Austria, only that you might attentively consider the 
immense basis of power which the Emperor pos- 



176 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

It is generally affirmed that, should the two 
nations go to war, there is little douht concerning 
which would have the advantage; that there is no 
equality between them, even supposing their generals 
to be equal; and that the contest most certainly 
would be favourable to the Prussians, during the first 
campaign. But this equality of generals is not true. 
Laudon, though still vigorous, cannot wear much 
longer. Besides that, he has often said he never 
would command an army, unless at the distance of 
four hundred miles from the Emperor. The abilities 
of Lacy are suspected, though he enjoys the entire 
confidence of Joseph II., and, as it is rumoured, has 
rendered himself singularly necessary, by the com- 
plication of the military machine. No commander 
in the Austrian army can contend against the Duke 
of Brunswick, nor even against Kalcreuth, or Moel- 
lendorf. 

Persons who have come very lately from Russia 
affirm that the Empress is in good health and that 
Ermenow has obliterated her long sorrows for the 
death of Lanskoi. It is also said that Belsborotko 
gains ground upon Potemkin, but of this I more than 
doubt. 

I have no belief in the facility with which the fifth 
despatch may be deciphered. I think that, in gen- 
eral, the ciphers have rather been conjectured than 
divined. The way by which they are commonly 



•^-^^^v 




THE COURT OF BERLIN. 177 

known is the ofl&cial communication of writings, 
which is made from one Court to another, and, which 
the Minister has sometimes the ill address to send 
without his accustomed cipher, on a known day. 
This is a quicksand of which I am not in danger. It 
is necessary, however, to have a variety of ciphers, 
and I entreat you will not neglect any occasion of 
sending me some that are new and more complete. 



LETTER XXVm. 

Dresden, September 24th, 1786. 

Your letter of the fourth of September, which, by 
mistake, your secretaries have dated the fourth of 
August, came to hand very late, and I shall reply 
without written references and solely from memory, 
in the annexed sheet, to the principal points. I had, 
indeed, previously answered them ; nor do I believe 
that anything has escaped me which it was in my 
power to learn, or that I have any reason to repent 
having sacrificed too much to respect and to proba- 
bilities, at the time of the death of the King. Had 
I pursued my plan, I should have been four days 
sooner than any of the diplomatic couriers ; but I 
request you will answer me whether it was possible 
to divine the conduct of our embassy. I disregarded 
the minute circumstances of death, as I had done 
that of the news itself ; nor could I divine that these, 
being no longer secret, and having become so easy 
to examine and describe, should yet have remained 
secrets to you. I suspected it the less because cer- 
tain Ambassadors (indeed, most of them) appeared to 

178 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 179 

me so embarrassed by the completing of their des- 
patches that I should not have imagined they would 
have disdained a supply which was to be obtained 
with so much facility. Satisfied also with having 
informed you, thanks to lucky circumstances, of the 
progress of the disease, in such a manner as few 
Ministers were informed, I despised those particulars 
that were become public. But there were some that 
were sufficiently interesting, relative to the last two 
days of the King, from which a banquet might be 
prepared at an easy expense ; and the poignancy of 
which not death itseK could destroy, — relating as 
they did to a mortal so extraordinary, both in body 
and mind. 

His disease, which would have killed ten men, was 
of eleven months' continuance, without interruption, 
and almost without relaxation, after his first fit of an 
asphyxic apoplexy, from which he was recovered by 
emetics, and after which the first word he uttered, 
with an imperious gesture, was Silence. Nature 
made four different efforts to save this her rare com- 
position, — twice by diarrhoeas, and twice again by 
cuticular eruptions. Hence it might be said, by 
the worshippers of a God, that this His image was 
broken by the Creator Himself ; and that nature did 
not abandon one of the most beauteous of her works 
till the total destruction of the organs, exhausted by 
age, had been effected ; nor till after a continual war- 



180 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

fare between body and mind * during forty-six years ; 
till after fatigues and agitations of every kind which 
signalized this fairy reign, and after the most ruinous 
disease. 

This man died on the seventeenth of August, at 
twenty minutes past two in the morning ; and on the 
fifteenth, when, contrary to his constant custom, he 
slept till eleven o'clock, he transacted his Cabinet 
business, though his feebleness was excessive, with- 
out any want of attention ; and even with a concise- 
ness scarcely perhaps to be found in any other Prince 
in good health. Thus when, on the sixteenth, the 
reigning Monarch sent orders to Zelle to repair in- 
stantaneously to Potsdam, because the King had 
remained insensible almost since the noon of the 
day before, and because he was in a lethargic sleep, 
the physician, arriving at three o'clock, and finding 
Frederick II. with animation in his eyes, sensibility 
in his organs, and so much recollection, not being 
called, durst not make his appearance. Zelle judged 
he was past recovery less from the cadaverous odour 
which exhaled from his wound than because he, for 
the first time during the whole course of his reign, 
did not recollect that he had not expedited the 
affairs of the Cabinet. The conclusion was sagely 
drawn : dying only could he forget his duty 

*The French reads: "Contention continuelle d' dme et d'esprit;" 
or of soul and mind ; the translator has the misfortune not to understand 
the distinctioB. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 181 

Two-thirds of Berlin at present are violently declaim- 
ing in order to prove that Frederick II. was a man 
of common, and almost of mean capacity. Ah ! could 
his large eyes, which obedient to his wishes seduced 
or terrified the human heart, could they but for a 
moment open, where would these idiot parasites find 
courage sufficient to expire with shame ? 



LETTER XXIX. 

Dresden, September 26th, 1786. 

Conversing witli a well-informed man who is re- 
turned from Russia, I learnt a fact totally strange to 
me, though no doubt known to the Comte de Ver- 
gennes ; but, whether or no, one which appeared to 
me proper to make you acquainted with ; and more 
especially because the project is pursued with greater 
ardour than ever. 

When Hyder Ali, having advanced beyond the 
Orixa, was at the height of his prosperous success, 
the inhabitants of the North of Bengal, interrupted in 
their customary commerce by the conflict between the 
English and their enemies, brought their iron as far 
as the frontiers of Siberia, there to find a market. 
This extraordinary fact was the cause of a remark- 
able attempt made by Russia, in 1783. She sent a 
fleet to Astracan, to seize on Astrabat, there to form 
an establishment, on the northern coast of the Cas- 
pian Sea, and thence to penetrate into the interior 
parts of India. The enterprise failed ; but is so far 
from being abandoned that, at this very moment, a 

182 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 183 

plan may be seen in relief at Petersburg, of the works 
by which it is intended to fortify Astrabat. 

Of all the gigantic projects of Russia this is, per- 
haps, the least unreasonable ; since it is pointed out 
by the nature of things, and since there is already an 
inland navigation completely carried on from Astra- 
can, on the Volga, the Mita, the Lake Jemen, the 
Wologda, the Canal of Ladoga, and the Neva, to 
Petersburg. Should this plan ever be pursued with 
activity and success, it must either happen that Eng- 
land will seriously think of an alliance with us, 
against the system of the North, or she must suffer 
every sort of advantage to be obtained over her at 
Petersburg; for the interest of the Russians must 
then become totally opposite to those of the English ; 
and hence may arise dreadful hurricanes, that may 
sweep away their puissance in the East. 

How many revolutions, how much strife between 
men and things, shall be occasioned by the develop- 
ment of the destiny of that Empire, which successively 
overawes and enslaves all surrounding nations? It 
must, indeed, be owned that her influence in each 
place ought to decrease in an inverse proportion to 
the multiplicity of these places. But how great is 
the influence of these augmenting points of contact, 
relative to Europe ! And, without prematurely divin- 
ing the fate of Turkey in Europe, with an intent to 
overcharge the picture, should Russia seize on the 



184 SECRET COURT' MEMOIRS. 

Polish Ukraine, as the manner in which she is arm- 
ing on the Black Sea, and disposing of her commerce, 
seem to indicate and to threaten, how much greater 
shall they still be ? What species of miderstanding 
must the Emperor possess, if it be impossible to make 
him perceive that the Turks and the Poles are less 
dangerous neighbours than those strange people ; who 
are susceptible of all, capable of all, who become the 
best soldiers in the world, and who, of all the men 
that inhabit the globe, are the most malleable ? 

The various ideas I have acquired here, where I 
have made a tolerable harvest, will be comprised in a 
particular memorial. They are not immediately nec- 
essary, and are too numerous to be inserted in my 
despatches. But there was one temptation, which 
was rather expensive, that I could not resist. The 
Elector has employed his engineers in the topography 
of Saxony. Twenty -four maps have already been 
laid down ; they are kept in great secrecy, and yet, by 
paying some louis for each map, I can have them 
copied. True it is I recollected that, since I could, M. 
de Vibraye perhaps has — but, as we rarely do all we 
may, or even all we ought to do, it is exceedingly 
possible this should not be so ; and then I should have 
lost an opportunity that nevermore could be recov- 
ered. This reflection determined me, in the hope 
that the intent of the act would be its apology ; and, 
as I have not put Government to the least fruitless 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 185 

expense, or which did not appertain to the better 
execution of the office I have undertaken, my surplus 
accounts, I suppose, will be passed. 

The Elector of Bavaria is not ill. His new mis- 
tress seems only to have been the whim of a day, and 
his favour again reverts to his former, Madame von 
Torring Seefeld, originally Minuzzi. 



LETTER XXX. 

Dresden,* September 30th, 1786. 

You have been informed, no doubt, by the courier 
of Tuesday, of what happened on Monday, at the first 
Court held by the Queen ; but, as I think it is proper 
I should add some reflections on this subject, I shall 
begin by relating what passed. 

The Princess Frederica of Prussia, who imagined 
that, according to the very sensible custom of the 
country, the Queen would sit down to play with 
natives, and not with foreign Ambassadors, had 
placed the Comte d' Esterno at her table ; for it was 
she who arranged the parties. She asked the Queen 
whom she appointed for her own table. The Queen 
named Prince Reuss, the Austrian Ambassador, and 
the Prince of Goethe ; but, this species of infantine 
elephant having, after some consideration, declared 
that he did not know any one game, the Queen sub- 
stituted Romanzow, the Russian Ambassador. The 
Princess Frederica was exceedingly surprised, but 
either dared not, or would not make any remon- 

* The scene of this and the two following letters, though dated at 
Dresden, is Berlin. 

186 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 187 

strances ; and the Queen's party sitting down to 
play, the Comte d' Esterno, with great positiveness, 
energy, and emphasis, refused to sit down at the 
table of the Princess; declaring he certainly would 
not play. He immediately withdrew. 

Everybody blames the Queen and the Count. The 
first for having committed an unexampled blunder, 
and the second, say the people of Berlin, ought not to 
have refused the daughter of the King. Perhaps 
this judgment is severe ; though I own I should not 
myself have refused; because, in my opinion, we 
should not shew we are insulted, except when we 
wish to be supposed insulted. And, as I think, it 
would have been very thoughtless to have taken seri- 
ous notice of the absurd mistake of a Princess who 
is the most awkward of all the Princesses in Europe. 
Neither had Comte d' Esterno, rigourously speaking, 
any greater cause of complaint than any other of the 
royal Ambassadors, among whom there is no claim of 
precedency. Perhaps, too, it would be imprudent to 
endeavour to establish any such claim ; for this 
would be very certainly to call that in question which 
tradition and universal tolerance have granted to us. 
And here let me observe that, as soon as Lord Dal- 
rymple knew Comte d' Esterno had been to complain 
to Count Finckenstein, he declared he made no 
demand of precedency whatever ; but neither would 
he suffer precedency from any one. I should, there- 



188 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

fore, have accepted the party of the Princess; but 
should have said aloud, and, pointing to the table of 
the Queen, " I see we are all here without distinction 
of persons ; and certainly fortune could not have 
been more favoui^able to me." (The Princess may 
really be called handsome.) Had I thought I still 
owed more to my Sovereign, I should, on the next 
Court-day, have refused the nomination of the Queen ; 
though it must have been a violent and hazardous 
step, and reparation must have become a public topic ; 
instead of which it is the insult only that is talked 
of, and that considerably, in the world. 

Will the Comte d' Esterno, or will he not, at pres- 
ent, accept the first invitation he shall receive ? 
Should he comply, it will remain on record that, 
having resented the procedure, he has acknowledged 
himself second. Yet how may he refuse ? I have 
proposed to Prince Henry, who is the mezzo termine, 
that there should be a Court held by the Queen 
Dowager, who, from her circumspection and native 
dignity, is more respected than the reigning Queen ; 
and that Comte d' Esterno should be of her party, 
with the Emperor's Ambassador ; which distinction 
would be the more marked because that this Queen 
never yet played with foreign Ministers. If her 
mourning for her husband does not counteract this 
project, it seems to me the best under the present 
circumstances. The Queen has written a letter to 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 189 

Count Finckenstein, which must have been read to 
Comte d' Esterno, in which is inserted the word 
excuse^ and wherein she requires the King should not 
be informed of the affair. But it is answered the 
offence was public, and excuses are wished to be kept 
secret, since silence is required. 

The most important and incontestably certain fact 
is, that there was no premeditation in the matter ; 
that it was the silly giddiness of the Queen in which 
it originated ; that Count Finckenstein and the whole 
Court are vexed at the affair ; that should the King 
hear of it he will be very much offended with the 
Queen, whom he has not seen for these six weeks, 
and whom he thwarts on all occasions ; that he has 
reversed all the arrangements which, in the rapture of 
accession, she had made with the Master of the 
Household ; and that, in fine, never had Queen of 
Prussia, that is to say, the most insignificant of 
Queens, less influence. 

If, therefore, it be true, on the one part, that the 
place of every man in this world is that which he 
himself shall assign to himself, that our rank, already 
much on the decline in the public opinion, has no 
need to sink lower, and that Russian insolence, which 
takes indefatigable strides, has need of being watched 
and traversed, it is perfectly certain on the other, 
also, that the proceeding of Monday was distinct and 
unmeaning, which ought not to be regarded with a 



190 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

lowering brow, under circumstances which may lead 
from lowering to cold distance, and from the latter to 
great changes ; or, at least, to decisively false steps, to 
which the Courts of Vienna and London are desirous 
of giving birth, and by which they will not fail to profit. 
Such is my advice, since I have had the honour 
to have this advice asked. Permit me to add, that 
Berlin is not any longer an indifferent embassy, but 
that it is necessary there to be active, yet cautious j 
amiable, yet dignified ; firm, yet pliant ; faithful, 
yet subtle ; in a word, to unite qualities which do 
not often meet. M. de Yibraye means to ask this 
embassy, should Comte d' Esterno retire, or be sent 
elsewhere. I speak uninterestedly, since I have no 
reason to presume that, should it be determined to 
send me on any embassy, I should begin by one 
of so much consequence; but it is my duty to say 
that M. de Vibraye, and particularly his lady, are 
not the proper persons. His understanding is heavy 
and confined ; rather turbulent than active ; and timid 
than prudent. He is more the giver of dinners than 
the representative of monarchy ; he has neither man- 
ners, elocution, nor eyes. Madame de Yibraye, who 
does not want understanding, would be too gay even 
for Paris ; and, to speak plainly, she has little pro- 
priety, and less decency. But as she is enterprising, 
she makes pretensions to dignity with all the be- 
haviour of thoughtlessness ; and, as she moulds her 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 191 

husband as she pleases, by suffering him to believe 
he is absolute master, she renders him morose, un- 
civil, and rude. Beside which, she sequesters him 
from the world ; and such sequestration must every- 
where, and particularly at Berlin, be totally disad- 
vantageous to an Ambassador of France. This is 
one of the errors of Comte d' Esterno. 

The following is the chief intelligence I hear con- 
cerning the King and his administration, relative 
either to his absence or his return. He is exceed- 
ingly dissatisfied with the Stadtholder. It is affirmed 
you ought to accept the declaration of Count Goertz. 
I repeat incessantly, that this is the very time when 
our intentions ought no longer to be suspected ; since 
assuredly, if we wish the destruction of the Stad- 
tholdership, the Prince of Orange has given us a fine 
opportunity. Prince Henry affirms that, provided 
he was restored to the right of maintaining order, 
and not of giving order, at the Hague, and was in 
possession of a little money, the King would be 
contented. I believe he, the King, feels the necessity 
of not making a false step at the beginning of his 
political career. One fact, I can assure you, is cer- 
tain, which is that it was the advice of Hertzberg 
to march ten thousand men into Holland ; and that 
there was on this occasion a very warm contention 
between him and General Moellendorf, in the King's 
presence. By this you may judge of what is to be 



192 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

expected from the violence of such a Minister. Still, 
however, this has not prevented him from being 
created a Count in Prussia; and, if I am not mis- 
taken, his influence continues. 

With respect to domestic affairs, whatever Prince 
Henry may say to the contrary, the credit of Schulem- 
burg is on the decline ; were it only that he no longer 
appears in the transaction of public business. It is, 
however, affirmed that he, with many others, is soon 
to be made a Count, for they are not economists 
of their titles. The commission for the regulation of 
the customs begins to strike bold strokes; but they 
alight on individuals, and are not aimed at general 
reformation. Launay has received information that 
the King henceforth can give him only six thousand 
crowns per annum, in lieu of twenty thousand, the 
sum he before had ; and that he must accept this or 
resign. Launay, enraged, and the more so because 
he has long since demanded his dismissal, loudly 
declares he will print an estimate,* which will prove 
not only that, in justification of each of his acts, 
he has a letter from the late King, the fiscal temper 
of whom he has moderated much oftener than he has 
provoked, but that he likewise has refused twenty 
bargains, offered him by Frederick II., which would 
have acquired him tons of gold. The scandal of this 
estimate, should he dare to publish it, will be very 

* Compte rendu. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 193 

great; and the analysing of it will rather be a 
commission of enquiry into the conduct of the late 
King than of the present state of the customs, which 
might easily have been foreseen were thus regulated. 
The commissioners have dismissed Roux, the only 
able man among the collectors, with a pension of 
five hundred crowns ; and Groddard, a person of 
insignificance, with a like sum. They have bestowed 
their places on Koepke and Beyer, with a salary of 
three thousand crowns, neither of whom know any- 
thing, — with this difference, that the last is exact, 
assiduous, and laborious ; but both of them are with- 
out information, and devoid of principles. Generally 
speaking, the commissioners themselves have none ; 
nor have they the least knowledge of how they ought 
to act. Commissions here will all be the same ; for, 
exclusive of the inconveniences that are annexed to 
them in every country, there is in this the additional 
one that men of knowledge are very scarce, and they 
must, therefore, long continue ill - sorted. But the 
King wishes to satisfy some, bestow places on those 
who have protectors, and particularly not to have 
any Prime Minister. There must be an embargo on 
business while it remains in this state ; and I have 
many reasons for supposing that no person will, for 
some months to come, have found his true place, 
or that which he is destined to keep ; we must not, 
therefore, be in haste to judge. 



194 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

But we may affirm that the King has exceedingly 
displeased the people, — less in refusing to partake of 
the festival prepared for his return than in avoiding 
the street where the citizens had assembled to see 
him pass. " He treats us as his uncle did, on his 
return from the Seven Years' War," say the mob ; 
" but, before imitating him in this, he ought to have 
imitated the great actions of his uncle." It must be 
owned good sense is sometimes on the side of the 
multitude. 

With respect to the domestic affairs of the palace, 
any one may remark at the first glance that they are 
totally in disorder. No master, no one to give direc- 
tions, no funds assigned ; footmen and the household 
officers govern all. Dufour, or Chauvier (I before 
explained to you that this was one and the same 
person), like all the other subordinate confidants 
without any influence whatever, is rather ill, than 
well treated. Colonel Vartensleben, formerly banished 
into Prussia because of his intimacy with the heredi- 
tary Prince, is supposed to increase in favour. But 
the two men to be observed are — Welner, to whom 
it is affirmed are communicated all ministerial papers, 
the reports on all projects, and the revisal of all deci- 
sions ; and Bishopswerder, who, beside universal 
suspicion, talks with too much affectation of having 
no influence over the King not to betray himself, in 
a country where people are not artful enough to say 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 195 

they do not possess a thing which they really do not 
possess in order that it may be supposed they do. 

With respect to pleasures, they are improved upon. 
One very remarkable arrangement is, that a cook has 
been appointed for the Princess Frederica of Prussia, 
the King's daughter by his first Queen ; thus she is 
to have a kind of household; vrhich, if I am not 
mistaken, is nothing more than a mode, and none of 
the most moral, of procuring frequent and decent 
interviews with Mademoiselle Voss, who is capitulat- 
ing; for she has declared that no hopes of success 
must be entertained as long as Madame Rietz shall 
continue to be visited. The latter went to meet the 
King on his return ; then, passing through the city 
with an arrow's speed, she flew to Charlottenburg, 
whither the King came, and where she lives. She 
acts the prudent part of taking charge herself of the 
pleasures of His Majesty ; who apparently sets a great 
price on any new enjoyment, be it of what kind it may. 

It is secretly rumoured, though I cannot warrant 
its truth, that England is prodigal in caresses, and 
reiterated offers of a treaty of commerce, on the 
most advantageous terms ; and that Russia itself 
spares no advances. Certain it is that our enemies 
and their partisans loudly proclaim that we have 
lately disbanded ten thousand men ; which is suffi- 
cient proof, say they, that we have no thoughts of 
holding the two imperial Courts in awe. 



196 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

I can also certify that the Grand Duke and the 
Grand Duchess, who long had afforded no signs of 
existence to Prince Henry, have lately written him 
very charming letters ; but these are no impediments 
to the licentious discourse of Romanzow, who, on the 
eve of the King's funeral, asked, in a public company, 
whether there would not be rejoicings on the morrow ; 
and who has bestowed the epithet of the illumination 
of the Jive candles on the night of the second, on 
which homage was paid to the new King, and when 
a general illumination was ordered. Apropos of 
homage. Prince Henry is permitted to make written 
oath, and this favour has not a little redoubled his 
fmnes ; he still wagers that Hertzberg will be 
disgraced. This Hertzberg yesterday read a pom- 
pous account to the Academy of his journey into 
Prussia, and he was suffocated with incense by all 
the candidates. Nothing could be more completely 
silly. 

I shall conclude with a word concerning Saxony. 
I do not believe the health of the Elector to be good ; 
he withers visibly ; and this is promoted by the 
violent exercise which he takes, from system, and in 
which he perseveres with all his invincible obstinacy. 
He will leave no sons, and there is no imagining the 
hypocritic imbecility of his brothers, who are not 
married ; the result of which is that this fine country 
is dangerously menaced by future contingencies. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 197 

Marcolini, as I have said, is on his journey through 
Italy ; and it is supposed that one of his commissions 
is to seek a wife for Prince Anthony, Prince Henry, 
who fears lest choice should be made of a Tuscan 
Princess, or some other of the Austrian alliances, has 
conceived the project of bestowing the hand of the 
Princesse de Cond^ on him, by which we should se- 
cure the Electorate and the Elector, I give this as 
I received it. 

FiEST PosTSCEiPT. — Let me add that, with respect 
to the map I determined to have secretly copied, it 
is the map of the most important part of Saxony ; and 
one which all the foreign Ambassadors, without excep- 
tion, with M. de Vibraye at their head, are convinced 
the Elector will not permit his brother to see. I 
have had a windfall much more valuable, — that of the 
land-survey of 1783, made with great exactitude, and 
containing a circumstantial division of territorial 
wealth. I shall have it copied in haste, for which I 
do not imagine I shall be blamed. M. de Vibraye is 
quitting Dresden, whither he does not wish to return. 
It is a pleasant post, and a very excellent one from 
which to observe the Emperor and the King of 
Prussia. 

Boden is on the road hither ; he is imagined to be 
presumptuous enough to solicit the French embassy. 
Either he will be disappointed or the Court of Berlin 



198 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

will act improperly. The King still continues in the 
intention of sending you Alvensleben. I spoke to you 
of him when at Dresden, where I conversed much 
with him; he is certainly a man of information 
and understanding. M. d' Entragues was intimately 
acquainted with him, and this friendship has con- 
tinued. It would be very easy to send for M. 
d' Entragues, who is at Montpellier ; whether it were 
to conduct or to watch his entrance on the scene of 

action. 

» 

Second Postscript. — Prince Henry was sent for 
by the King this morning, on business, and invited 
to go and dine at Charlottenburg. This he has 
acquainted me with, and desired me to come to him 
at five o'clock. I can add nothing to this enormous 
length of ciphering, except that I wish to repeat that 
the intelligence of the ten thousand men proposed by 
Hertzberg is fact. It has appeared so important to 
me, when combined with the affairs of Hattem and 
Elburg, which seemed to give invincible demonstra- 
tion that Count Hertzberg had long promised, in the 
secret correspondence of which I have spoken, the aid 
of the army of the new King. I say this information 
appeared so important that I thought it my duty to 
make it known to the Comte d' Esterno, by a channel 
which he cannot suspect is derived from me. 

With respect to Court intrigues here, I have proof 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 199 

that Prince Henry tells everything to Prince Ferdi- 
nand, who tells everything to his wife, who, lured by 
the tempting bribes she receives in ready money, 
betrays Prince Henry. Luckily, the excessive stu- 
pidity of this Princess deadens her influence, and 
congeals the good -will which the King wishes to 
entertain for her. 



LETTER XXXI. 

Dresden, October 3d, 1786. 

I HAVE had very little time for the courier of to- 
day, having spent all day yesterday, from six o'clock 
in the morning till night, at, and in the affairs of, the 
Court. The ceremony of rendering homage was 
awful, notwithstanding the narrowness of the place 
in which the States were received. As moral ideas 
have a great influence, even unperceived by us, on 
our physical sensations, this tribute of respect, paid 
by armed despotism to the nation it governs, this 
species of paternal colloquy between the Monarch 
and the deputies, here called the States, establishing 
in some manner a correlative engagement, — to which 
only a little more dignity on the part of the deputies, 
and at least the appearance of deliberation, are want- 
ing to give pleasure to the heart, — fill the mind with 
sublime and affecting reveries. To a Prince capable 
of reflection, I would only wish this ceremony to be 
contrasted with the military oath, and the different 
emotions they excite to be analysed, in order to lead 
him to examine whether it be true that a monarchy 
depends wholly upon force, and whether the pyramid 
ought to rest upon its basis or upon its point. 

200 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 201 

After the discourse of the Minister of Justice 
(Reek) to the States, after the harangue of the first 
order (the ecclesiastics), conducted by Prince Freder- 
ick of Brunswick, provost of the chapter of Bran- 
denburg, and after the oath of the nobility, the 
declaration and confirmation of privileges, the enumer- 
ation of titles to be bestowed, made by the Minister 
Hertzberg (the Minister Schulemburg is one among 
the number of new Counts), the King advanced, on a 
projecting balcony, over which a very fine canopy had 
been raised, to receive the oaths and the homage of 
the people. The citizens were assembled, by com- 
panies, wards, and trades, in the square opposite the 
palace. The symptoms of tumultuous joy are here, 
as elsewhere, the effects of sympathy (I had almost 
said contagious) between a great multitude of men, 
assembled to behold one elevated superior, to them all, 
whom they called their Monarch and their Master, 
and on whom, in reality, depends the greatest part of 
the blessings or the woes that await them. 

It must, however, be remarked that the order was 
much greater all the day, and at night, than could 
have been hoped in any other large metropolis. It is 
true that they distribute here neither wine, cervelats,* 
nor money. The largesses are distributed to each 
quarter, and pass through the hands of the pastor 
and the magistrate. It is equally true that the pas- 

* A species of large sausage. 



202 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

sions of this are scarcely so strong as the emotions of 
other nations. 

The King dined upwards of six hundred people. 
All who were noble were invited. When the pro- 
posal was made to me to remain, I replied that, 
apparently, only the national nobility was meant; 
and that, had it been intended to admit foreigners 
to that favour, they no doubt would have had the 
honour of receiving such an intimation. All the 
English, and almost all the French, like me, and with 
me, retired. 

The illuminations were not very great. One was 
remarked where all the small lamps were covered 
over by crape, so that the light appeared dim, 
gloomy, and truly funereal. This was the invention 
of a Jew, and it was in the front of his own house 
that it took place. It calls to my mind a beautiful 
passage in the sermon which preceded the ceremony, 
and which was preached in the Lutheran church. 
The minister of the prevailing religion long invoked, 
and with considerable pathos and energy, the bless- 
ings of toleration — " That happy and holy harvest, for 
which the Prussian provinces are indebted to the 
family by which they are governed." 

I send you the best medals that were struck on the 
occasion. They are your own. Others are to be 
distributed among the foreign Ambassadors, who, no 
doubt, will send them home. There are some in 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 203 

gold, but I thought them too dear, the workmanship 
considered. Each general in the service was pre- 
sented with a large medal, the price of which is forty 
crowns. Each commander of a regiment received a 
small one, of the price of six ducats. The large are 
good, the small very indifferent. I speak of those that 
were distributed yesterday ; and only of the likeness. 

October 4th, 1786. 

The day of homage and its preparations have 
wholly consumed the time, and obstructed all soci- 
ety, since the last courier ; for which reason I have 
at present little to say. Prince Henry was invited, 
the other day, principally, as I believe, let him say 
what he will, because M. de Custine, the father, dined 
with the King. However, His Majesty, before din- 
ner, spoke to the Prince concerning Holland, and 
complained that the discourse of M. de Yeyrac, who 
had informed Goertz he could not interfere, was in 
exact contradiction to the promises of the Cabinet of 
Yersailles. The subject of Holland puts him out of 
temper, as it naturally must ; and yet, as I have in- 
cessantly repeated, " When could we find a better 
opportunity of acting disinterestedly than at present ; 
now that the Stadtholder, contrary to reason and all 
propriety, has taken a violent and decisive part, a 
few days before the arrival of the advice which was 
intended to be sent him by the King ? " 



204 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

I have had a very impassioned scene, concerning 
Holland, with Count Hertzberg : patience, firmness, and 
something of cunning, on my part ; violence, passion, 
and want of reason, on his. It is evident to me that he 
is pursuing some secret project concerning Holland. 

Apropos of M. de Custine ; he made the King wait 
an hour for him at dinner. It is a melancholy cir- 
cumstance for France that she should continually be, 
in some measure, represented by certain travellers, 
when political affairs are in a delicate state. Our 

Due de la F , amidst an assembly of our enemies, 

said to the Duke of Brunswick, " Apropos ; pray has 
your Highness ever served ? " At Dresden, a cere- 
monious and circumspect place, where our embassy 
has given much dissatisfaction, this same pitiable in- 
terrogator, having been shewn a collection of precious 
stones, the most magnificent that exists in Europe, 
said to the Elector, at high dinner, " Very good ! 
Yes, indeed, very good ! Pray how much did the 
collection cost your Highness ? " * A certain M. de 

* A good account of this collection of baubles, which existed in all its 
splendour under Augustus II., Elector of Saxony, and by which and sim- 
ilar expenses, equally wise, a country so flourishing and industrious was 
overwhelmed iu debt, may be seen in " Hanway's Travels," vol. i., chap. 
95. The porcelain collection, in splendour and foUy, equals that of the 
jewels. The same Augustus purchased forty-eight china vases of the 
cunning and covetous Frederick William I. of Prussia, the great merit of 
which was their great bulk, at the price of an entire regiment of dra- 
goons. The late King of Prussia used, in contempt, to call Augustus 
III., the Porcelain King; and informs us, in the "History of his own 
Times " that, when acting in conjunction with the Saxons to conquer 
Moravia for the benefit of this Augustus, having demanded artillery to 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 205 

P ) a week before the death of the King, dining 

at Potsdam with the Prince of Prussia, hearing the 
name of M. de H mentioned, exclaimed, " Apro- 
pos ; I forgot that I have a letter from him, which 
I am to give you." And this letter he threw to 
the Prince across the table. He no doubt imagined 
such familiarity was exceedingly natural — he who, 
at Prague, taking leave of the Emperor, seized and 
shook him by the hand, testifying the great satis- 
faction he had received at having seen his man- 
oeuvres, and renewed his acquaintance with him. 

And, what is better, it is M. de who relates this 

anecdote here; which there are Englishmen enough 
would take care should not have been forgotten, had 
he not with so much precaution treasured it up in his 
memory. Wherefore permit such people to travel, 
whom, by means of the places they enjoy, it is easy 
to detain at home ? There is no possibility of exag- 
gerating the evil which such ridiculous pasquinades 
produce, at a moment when the ill - designing are so 
numerous, and who wish that the nation should be 
judged by such specimens. 

Suffer me further to remark, of Messieurs de 
Custine, that, foolish as the father is, physically a 
fool, a fool unmeasurable and disgusting, equally is 
the son a man of great hopes, and appears in all 

besiege Brunn, the Elector replied he had no money to purchase artil- 
lery ; yet he had lately expended 400,000 crowns on a large, green diamond ! 



206 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

companies "with universal success. Not any man so 
young, with whom I am acquainted, unites so much 
modesty, so much reason, and such decent timidity, 
to so great a talent for observation, or to manners so 
agreeable and mild, so much caution and wise activ- 
ity. There is no doubt but that the extravagances of 
the father display these qualities to advantage in the 
son, but they exist, and on the most solid basis, for, 
in all probability, he has taken an aversion for, by 
being a continual spectator of, the follies of his father. 
He is a scion who, of all the young men I have 
known, is most proper to be transplanted into the 
diplomatic nursery. 

The King, all yesterday, was cold and taciturn; 
not an emotion, not a gracious word, not a smile. 
The Minister Reek, who harangued the States in the 
name of the Sovereign, promised, in his discourse, 
that no new tax should be imposed during the 
present reign, but that, on the contrary, those that 
existed should be diminished. Was he commanded 
to make this promise, or did he venture to make it 
uncommanded ? Of this I am ignorant, and it is a 
matter of doubt. 

The day before yesterday, the King had some 
domestic brawls and a scene of jealousy, at Charlot- 
tenburg, to support from Madame Rietz. The re- 
membrance perhaps remained with him yesterday ; 
"whether or no, the discourse of his Minister of Jus- 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 207 

tice spoke more pleasingly than his countenance, 
however agreeable it may in reality be. He is to 
depart on the fourth for Silesia, and does not return 
till the seventeenth. 

A part of the palace is at present furnishing, but 
in a simple style. 

Public notice has been given that those persons who 
had been promised reversions of fiefs should appear, 
that their reversions were annulled, and that they 
were not allowed to solicit till first there should be a 
vacant fief, and not for the reversion of fiefs. 

I have seen a narrative of what passed in Prussia. 
The person who wrote it has employed very sounding 
expressions to depict the enthusiasm of the public, 
and among them, the following phrase of the King: 
" I have found Prussia very ill, but I will cure her." 

Count Katzerling, who had suffered great losses 
during the Seven Years' War, and met with very ill 
treatment from the late Monarch, after having been 
very graciously received by him, had accepted a loan 
of one hundred and fifty thousand crowns, for thirty 
years, without interest. 

It is said the Bishop of Warmia will be here 
within three weeks. He is a very amiable man, with 
the levity of a Pole, and was much in the favour of 
the Prince of Prussia. The King seems to remember 
this ; he has been treated with much greater kindness 
than any other person in Prussia. 



208 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

In November, the King is to balance the state- 
ments of expense and receipt. 

First Postscript. — I forgot to inform you that, 
for so cloudy a day. Prince Henry was yesterday 
highly caressed. He dined and supped with His 
Majesty, and singly attended him to see the illumi- 
mations. 

Second Postscript. — I return from Court, the 
Ambassadors were mingled promiscuously, but, as the 
Ministers of the two Imperial Courts were together, 
the King proceeded in rather a singularly retrograde 
manner. It so happened (because of the number of 
Englishmen that were to be presented) that Lord 
Dalrymple was the nearest to the King's door, and 
preceded the Imperial Ambassadors. The King 
began with the latter. He then returned to Lord 
Dalrymple, after which he descended much lower 
-toward Comte d' Esterno, and spoke no further to him 
than by thanking, in general, the foreign Ambassa- 
dors for their illuminations. Should this neglect of 
■customary forms continue, I think it would be right 
to let it be understood that it gives displeasure, for 
iiie rumour of the hatred of the King for the French 
is daily strengthened, and rumour, sometimes, in 
jreality produces the event it proclaims. 



LETTER XXXn. 

Deesden, October 4th, 1786. 

It appears extremely probable that habit will ba- 
the conqueror, and that Frederick William will 
never be more than what his penetrating uncle had 
foreboded. No terms are too hyperbolical to express 
the excessive negligence of his domestic affairs, their 
disorder, and his waste of time. The valets dread 
his violence ; but they are the first to turn his inca- 
pacity to derision. Not a paper in its place ; not a 
word written at the bottom of any of the memorials ; 
not a letter personally opened ; no human power 
could induce him to read forty lines together. It is 
at once the tumult of vehemence and the torpor of 
inanity. His natural son, the Count of Brandenburg, 
is the only one who can rouse him from his lethargy ; 
he loves the boy to adoration. His countenance 
brightens the moment he appears, and he amuses 
himself, every morning, a considerable time with thi& 
child, and this, even of his pleasures, is the only one 
in which he is regular; for the remaining hours are 
wasted in inexplicable confusion. His ill-humour the 

209 



210 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

other day, for example, which I had supposed was 
occasioned by the quarrel at Charlottenburg, induced 
me to enquire into particulars. It was nothing more 
than a musical dispute. The King would have a 
chamber concert. He ordered two-and-twenty musi- 
cians to be assembled. It was his intention to have 
performed himself; his violoncello was uncased and 
tuned. Fourteen musicians only came ; and passions, 
threats, intemperance succeeded. The valets de 
chamhre laid the blame on Kalikan, whose business 
it was to summon the musicians. Kalikan was 
thrown into prison. Duport, the famous violoncello 
player, and consequently the favourite musician, came 
to the aid of Kalikan, and gave the King the letter 
which the valets de chamhre had intercepted. His 
choler then became outrageous ; everybody fled ; but 
no further effects have followed this subaltern prevar- 
ication. Poor King I Poor country ! * 

I am persuaded of two particulars ; the one, that 
His Majesty has conceived the idea and the hope of 
becoming a great man, by making himself wholly 
and purely German, and by hectoring French supe- 
riority ; the other, that he is already in his heart 
determined to resign business to a principal Minister. 

* The late despot made drummers of M. Mara (the husband of the 
celebrated singer) and another musician, whose name we have forgotten, 
for having the spirit to disobey an arbitrary mandate ; and drummers 
for hours they remained, to their disgrace, as was intended ; but to the 
disgrace of himself, in reality, and of the nation that will suffer such 
tyrants, petty as the instance was, to exist. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 211 

He has not, perhaps, yet owned the fact to himself ; 
but at least he is inwardly convinced it must be so. 
In this case his last resource will be to call in the 
aid of the Duke of Brunswick, or of my uncle. 

The first of these plans is the work and the master- 
piece of Count Hertzberg. He has said, and justly 
said : " There is only one mode of acquiring reputa- 
tion ; which is to impart an impulse to your nation, 
that under your reign a new kind of glory may take 
date. This impulse you can only give by acting 
determinately. What can you ever effect as the 
partisan of France? You can only be the feeble 
imitator of Frederick II. As a German you will be 
an original, personally revered throughout Germany, 
adored by your people, vaunted by men of letters, 
respected by Europe, etc., etc." The explication of 
the enigma is, that Count Hertzberg imagined this to 
be the shortest road to make himself Prime Minister. 
But the necessities of accident demand, or will 
soon demand, a different person. Servile as the 
country is, it is not habituated to ministerial slavery ; 
and Hertzberg, long a subaltern, rather craity than 
able, deceitful than cunning, violent than determined, 
vain than ambitious, old, infirm, and not promising 
any long duration of life, will not bend the people to 
this servility. They must have (though this Welner, 
who is so much attended to at present, and whose 
influence near spectators only can discover, may push 



212 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

his pretensions), I repeat, they must have a man. 
whose rank can quell subordinate candidates; and 
the number of such men is not great. I can discover 
but two men of this kind, — Prince Henry and the 
Duke of Brunswick. To the disadvantage of not 
living in the country, the latter adds that of being 
necessarily formidable to a feeble and indolent, but 
vain and jealous, Prince; who may imagine that 
Prince Henry will not commit the same injury on 
his, the Sovereign's, reputation as a Prince who 
cannot leave his own country, and reside here 
constantly as Prime Minister, without being undoubt- 
edly and conspicuously such. For which reason the 
credit of Prince Henry daily strengthens, in spite of 
his ill address. However, he has boasted less within 
some few weeks ; and, instead of not returning from 
Rheinsberg, whither he again goes during the absence 
of the King, till the middle of December, as was his 
intention, he will be here on the same day as his 
nephew. 

Yet, exclusive of the personal defects of Prince 
Henry, and the errors of which he will indubitably 
be guilty, how shall we reconcile the German system 
and the Monarch's hatred of the French to the confi- 
dence granted this Prince ? The symptoms of such 
hatred, whether systematic or natural, continually 
increase and correspond. The King, when he dis- 
missed Roux and Groddart, said, " Voild done de ces 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 213 

B dont je me suis defaity* The real crime of 

Roux, perhaps, was that he kept a Jewess whom the 
Prince of Russia wished to possess, and obstinately 
refused to listen to any kind of accommodation. A 
French merchant brought some toys f to shew him, 
to whom he harshly replied, "I have baubles already 
of this kind to the amount of seven millions." He 
then turned his back, and did not utter another word, 
except to bid him not go to the Queen, for if he did, 
he should not be paid. The action was far from 
blameable ; it is the manner only that I notice. 
Boden was passably well received, except that the 
only consolation he found for his fever was, "Go to 
Berlin, and keep yourself quiet, for you have a com- 
panion that will stay by you these three months." 
Boden said to him, " I should have had thousands of 
messages to Your Majesty, had I dared to take charge 
of them." " You did well to refuse," replied the 
King ; and in so rough a tone that Boden durst not 
even given him the letters of Dusaulx and Bitaub^. 

Launay is treated with severity, and even with 
tyranny. He was confined to his chamber while his 
papers were examined, independent of a general 
prohibition not to leave Berlin. One D^latre, his 
personal enemy, has been opposed to him on all occa- 

*"I have rid myself of these ." The epithet must be left with 

the reader ; there is no danger he should be more indelicate than the 
original. 

t Des genttllesses, probably jewels. 



214 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

sions, and has been sent for to become an informer 
against Mm, — a man devoid of faith or honour ; sus- 
pected of great crimes ; a dissipator of the King's 
money ; an unbridled libellist, and as such denounced 
by our Court to that of Berlin, which officially 
returned thanks, two years ago, for our behaviour on 
that subject. I say he was sent for ; because owing, 
as he does, eighty thousand crowns to the King, 
would he have ventured to come without a passport, 
or being asked ? It is evident that Launay is perse- 
cuted as a farmer of the taxes, and as a Frenchman. 
It is believed that the collectors and farmers-gen- 
eral will all be dismissed * at the festival of the 
Trinity, the time when those accounts that shall actu- 
ally be settled are to be examined. This is the grand 
sacrifice that is to be offered up to the nation. But 
what is to supply the deficiency in the revenue ? For 
in fine, the farmers, last year, paid six millions eight 
hundred thousand German crowns ; and it is not only 
impossible to replace this immense sum, but, knowing 
the country, it is easy to foresee that the German 
farmers of finance will scarcely collect the half of 
the amount. 

* Congidier la rigie.— The late King introduced the French into Prus- 
Bia, to farm and collect the taxes, at the beginning of his reign. It was 
one of the most odious of the acts of his internal administration; in 
which, whenever his own revenues were out of the question, he endeav- 
oured to act for the good of the people. Endeavoured, but most 
frequently did not; of this, his innumerable monopolies are proofs 
incontestable. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 215 

Of what will the convocation of the provincial and 
finance counsellors, and the deputies of the mer- 
chants, be productive ? Of complaints, and not one 
project which will not be distinct, partial, and in con- 
tradiction to the general system, — or such as the 
nature of things presents as a system; for in reality 
not any as yet exists. 

I return, and say, all these projects are contrary to 
the personal hopes of Prince Henry. Will he make 
all his passions subservient to his ambition ? (He is 
far from possessing that degree of fortitude.) Or, 
does he dissemble that he may obtain power? Of 
this I do not believe him uniformly capable. I rather 
fear he is once again the dupe of caresses; which, 
however, it must be confessed, are more substantial 
and more marked than they ever had been before. I 
particularly fear he should be in too great haste, and 
too eager to gather the harvest before it be ripe; 
neglecting the care of providing seed for futurity. 

The King has given the Minister of Justice, Reek, 
a box of petrified shells, splendidly enriched with 
diamonds, estimated to be worth twelve thousand 
crowns ; a similar box to the Minister Gaudi, and ten 
thousand crowns; another of the same kind to Gen- 
eral Moellendorf; a fine solitaire to the Marquis di 
Luchesini ; and a diamond ring to Philippi, the lieuten- 
ant of the police. He has farther broken up three 
boxes set with diamonds, of which thirty rings have 



216 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

been made ; these he has taken with him to distribute 
in Silesia. 

Take good note, that Launay has not had the 
alternative of accepting a salary of six thousand 
crowns, or his dismission ; he has merely received 
information, under the form of an order, that his 
salary was reduced to six thousand crowns. 

Count Hertzberg this day gave a grand dinner 
to foreigners, to which the new Spanish Ambassador 
was invited, but neither Comte d' Esterno nor any 
Frenchman; which affectation was the more remark- 
able since all the English, Piedmontese, Swedish, and 
not only foreign Ambassadors but complimentary 
envoys, were there assembled. Comte d' Esterno 
takes a proper revenge ; he gives a grand dinner 
to-morrow, to which Count Hertzberg is invited. 

Postscript. — Mr. Ewart, the secretary of the Eng- 
lish embassy, said to me yesterday, in the presence 
of fifteen people. Count Hertzberg supporting him 
with voice and gesture, in these precise terms, " The 
Stadtholder is, by the constitution, the executive 
power in Holland ; or to speak more intelligibly, he 
is precisely in Holland what the King is in Eng- 
land." I replied, in the most ironical and dry tone, 
" It is to be hoped he will not be beheaded by his 
subjects." The laughers were not with Mr. Ewart. 

Boden has sent your packets. The extracts from 
the pleadings of Linguet, which are excellent (I 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 217 

speak of the extracts), have been perfectly success- 
ful. I entreat you will not fail to send me the 
continuation. You cannot find a better means of 
procuring me customers than by things of this kind. 

There is a demur concerning Alvensleben. It is 
Hertzberg who supports Goltz. 

Number LXXYIII. of the " Courier of the Lower 
Hhine " is so insolent, relative to the King of France 
and his Ambassador, that I imagine it would be 
proper to make a formal complaint. This might 
somewhat curb Hertzberg, who is the accomplice of 
Manson, and who may do us many other favours of a 
like nature, should this pass with impunity. You 
are not aware of the influence these gazettes have in 
Germany. 



LETTER XXXIII. 

Magdebueg, October 9th, 1786. 

Leaving Berlin, I by cbance discovered the person 
who has remained four days shut up in the apartment 
of the Prince of Hesse (of Rothembourg), who is no 
other than that Croisy, formerly St. Huberty, and 
once the husband of our celebrated St. Huberty,* 
whose marriage was annulled, Counsellor Bonneau f 
of the Prince of Prussia, and relative to his own wife 
a bankrupt, a forger, — in a word, a knight of indus- 
try, of the most despicable order, and concerning 
whom all foreigners ask, " Is it possible such a man 
can be an officer in the French service ? " I am no 
longer astonished that the Prince of Hesse should be 

* The first singer at the French opera. 

t Bonneau is a sea term, in the French language, and signifies buoy. 
But the word was chosen by Voltaire, because it was an apt metaphor, as 
the name of a Pandar. From him it is here borrowed, and is several 
times 30 applied in this work. 

Done, pour cacher comme on put cette affaire, 
Le Roi choisit le Conseiller Bonneau, 
Confident sUr, et tres bon Tourangeau. 
Jl eut V emploi, qui certes n' est pas mince, 
Et qu' A la cour, oil tout se peint en beau, 
Nous appellons ttre V ami du prince, 
Mais qu' A la ville, et surtout en province, 
Les gens grossiers ont nom,mi Maquereau. 

— La Pucelle. Chant prem. 

218 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 219 

coldly received by the King. To come expressly to 
lay the train to the mine of corruption ; and to 
depend upon it as a certainty that the combustibles 
should catch fire, from a knowledge of the errors of 
the Sovereign ; to found hopes of success on the ill 
opinion we have of him, and in a manner to proclaim 
this knowledge, by a rapid journey from Paris to 
Berlin, destitute of all other pretext, since the Prince 
of Hesse and his minion have stayed only five days, 
and are already gone back to Paris, — this is at once 
to display foolish cunning and contemptible conduct. 
I imagine it is of importance that we should tell the 
King aloud, and with the strongly marked, ironical 
tone of disdain, which shall make him feel, with- 
out debasing ourselves to speak more openly, that 
this manoeuvre was totally unknown to our Cabinet ; 
for I am persuaded, from some half-phrases which I 
have heard those who wish us ill drop, that they do 
not desire anything better than to fix this blot upon us. 
I have travelled through Brandenburg to Magde- 
burg with Count Hatzfeldt, who had been sent by the 
Elector of Mayence to compliment the King on his 
accession, and Baron Geilling, sent for the same 
purpose by the Due de Deux-Ponts. The latter, 
formerly a captain of hussars in our service, is a 
handsome blockhead, who could only have been 
chosen because he is the brother of Madame Eix- 
beck, the Duke's mistress. Count Hatzfeldt is a 



220 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

man of great urbanity, and whose knowledge and 
understanding are deserving of esteem. It seems 
he will remain some time at Berlin, that he may 
discover what shall be created out of the chaos. I 
conversed much on Mayence ; the Elector is better, 
but does not promise any length of life. The two 
persons who, in all appearance, are most likely to 
succeed him are Feckenberg and Alberg. The first 
is wholly Austrian, the latter a man of abilities, of 
whom the highest opinion is entertained, whose polit- 
ical inclinations are little known, and who dissem- 
bles, like Sixtus V. while yet a monk. 

That Court at present seems to be exceedingly 
averse to the Emperor, who every day, indeed, by 
a multitude of traits, both private and public, and 
which are really inconceivable, increases universal 
hatred. It is impossible to depict the effect which 
his answer to the request of the Hungarians pro- 
duced — (Pueri sunt pueri: pueri puerilia tractant) — 
together with the violent abolition of all their privi- 
leges. But, on the one hand, the great landholders 
are at Vienna, there enchained by their places, and 
almost kept under a guard, so that they are in truth 
the hostages of the slavery of the Hungarians ; and, 
on the other, the aristocracy being excessively odious 
to the people, there is in this superb and formidable 
country neither unity of interest, nor centre of con- 
cord. The regular troops are, beside, posted, and 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 221 

provided with artillery, supported by veterans, colo- 
nists, etc., etc. 

An Englishman, very much my friend, and a man 
of excellent observation, whom I have happened to 
meet with here, and who has visited all the camps 
of the Emperor, while speaking in raptures of those 
formidable pillars of his power, Hungary, Moravia, 
Bohemia, Galicia, etc., confesses that the inferiority 
of his troops, compared with the Prussian army, has 
infinitely surpassed his expectation. He affirms it is 
impossible, either relative to the individual or collec- 
tive information of the officers or to the military 
talents of the Emperor, which are in reality null, 
insomuch that he appears incapable of conceiving 
such complicated evolutions, — he affirms, I say, it is 
impossible to compare the two nations : with this 
difference, that the Emperor, like Cadmus, can make 
men spring out of the earth ; and that the Prussian 
army, once annihilated, will be incapable of renova- 
tion, except from its treasury. Should a man once 
be seated upon the Austrian throne, there will be an 
end to the liberties of Europe. The health of the 
Emperor is supposed not to be good; his activity 
gradually decreases ; he still, however, surpasses his 
real strength, but his projects seem like the wishes of 
an expiring patient who raves on recovery. He is 
supposed at present to be on very cool terms with the 
Empress of Russia. 



LETTER XXXiy. 

Brunswick, October 14th, 1786. 

Though I ride post, you perceive it is not in the 
spirit of dissipation. Alas! what mode of life in 
reality less corresponds with my natural inclination 
than that indolent activity, if so I may call it, which 
hurries me into every tumult, and among the proud 
and fastidious, to the utter loss of time ! For such 
is the general consequence of the confusion of society 
among the Germans, who converse as they call it 
among themselves although thirty persons should be 
present. Thus am I robbed of study, deprived of 
my favourite pursuits, my own thoughts, and forced 
incessantly to comply with forms so foreign, not to 
say odious, to my nature. You yourself, who lead a 
life so full of hurry, but who, however, associate 
with the chosen few, in despite of all the gifts of 
nature, you must feel how difficult it is abruptly 
to pass from the buzz of men to the meditations of 
the closet. Yet is this indispensably necessary, in 
order to manage the aside speeches, by which the 
current news of the day is acquired and conse- 
quences are divined. We must gallop five days with 

222 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 223 

the Prince, and pursue all the physical and moral 
meanderings of the man, in public and in private, 
before we can obtain the right, or the opportunity, 
to ask him a question ; or, which is better, to catch a 
word, which may be equivalent both to question and 
answer. 

But who knows this better than you ? I only wish 
you to understand my excursions are not the effect of 
chance, and still less of whim. Let me add that 
each of my journeys improves my local knowledge, a 
subject on which I have made it a law not to be 
easily satisfied. I hope that, among others, you will 
perceive by my memorial on Saxony, and by that on 
the Prussian States, which are, in reality, works of 
labour, and which you will not have a sight of for 
some months to come, that I have profoundly studied 
the countries which I wished to understand, and as 
ardently in men as in books; with this difference, 
however, that I scarcely dare confide in the mere 
assertion of the best-informed man, unless he brings 
written proofs.* The necessity of that species of 
superstitious conscientiousness, with which I am 
almost mechanically impressed, whenever I take up 
the pen, has been demonstrated to my own mind too 
often for it ever to forsake me. 

Yet whither am I travelling in this painful road ? 
If I may depend on the few reports which your 

* Are there not, cceteria paribus, as many written as related lies? 



224 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

friendship has deigned to make me of the sensation 
which my despatches have produced, when corrected, 
arranged, and embellished by you (for how is it pos- 
sible for me to correct that which I write at the 
moment, by snatches, with lightning-like rapidity, 
and without having time to read ?), they have given 
satisfaction. If I judge by the reiterated symptoms 
of the extreme inattention which long silence sup- 
poses, on questions the most important, on requests 
the most instantaneous, and sometimes of absolute 
forgetfulness of the greatest part of these things, I 
should be induced to believe that my letters are read, 
at the most, with as much interest as a packet would 
be, the materials of which are tolerably clear and 
orderly, and that the reading produces not the least 
ultimate effect. Should this be so, is it worth the 
trouble (I put the question to you, whose energetic 
sentiments and high thoughts so often escape, 
notwithstanding all the contagion of levity, careless- 
ness, egotism, and inconsistency which exhale out of 
every door in the country which you inhabit), is 
it right, I say, that I should sacrifice, to an interest 
so subordinate as that of curiosity, my inclinations, 
my talents, my time, and my powers ? I believe you 
know me to be no quack, you know it is not my 
custom to speak of my pains, and of my labours, in 
fustian terms. Permit me, then, my good and dear 
friend, to protest that they both are great. I keep 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 225 

three men totally occupied in mechanically copying 
the materials I have arranged. I am assisted by the 
labour and the knowledge of several ; all my moments, 
all my thoughts are there, thence depart, and thither 
return. Should the product be no greater (and I 
may say to you that you cannot yet estimate the 
whole product, for the greatest of my labours are still 
in my desk),* it must either be the fault of my own 
incapacity or of my situation ; perhaps of both, and 
perhaps also of the latter only. But here I am 
wholly, and, as a man of thirty-seven, ought not to 
be wholly, devoted to nullities ; for nullities they are 
if nothing be produced, nothing effected, either in 
behalf of myself or others. 

K, therefore, anything he produced, afford me 
some proof of it; and when, for example, I ask any 
question, for the purpose of more effectually execut- 
ing my trust, let it be answered. When I say it is 
necessary I should have a plan of operations of such 
or such a kind to propose, because I shall be imme- 
diately questioned on the subject, and shall lose an 
opportunity which probably may never be recovered 
should I be caught improvided, let such a plan of 
operations be sent me. 

If all this is to have any good effect in my favour, 
let me be told so ; for in my present situation I have 

* The author no doubt refers to his " Histoire de la Monarchic prtis- 
sienne. 



226 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

great need of encouragement, if it were but to 
empower me to yield without madness to the 
impulses of my zeal. I say without madness ; for, to 
speak only of the idlest, but, notwithstanding, the most 
palpable of wants, when I perceive that I am very 
unable to make my accounts balance with my present 
appointments, ought I not to clog the down -hill 
wheel ? And what have I to hope from these 
appointments, when I recollect how much they are in 
arrear ; and that a change of Ministry may increase 
my personal debts with the sums which my friends 
have advanced me, for the service of those who can- 
not be ignorant I am myself incapable of making 
such advances ? Yet, should I stop, is there not an 
end to all utility from what I have hitherto effected ? 
Shall I then have anything remaining except regret 
for time lost, and the deep, the rankling affliction of 
having attached people to my fortunes for whom I 
can do nothing but what must be an ill compensation, 
and at my own expense, for all which they have done 
for me ? 

Pardon these expansions of the heart. To whom 
may I confide my anxieties, if not to you, my friend, 
my consolation, my guide, and my support? To 
whom may I say, what is all this to me, since it does 
not produce me even money ? For that I expend in 
the business I have undertaken, and not in private 
gratifications. In truth, I should be susceptible of 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 227 

no other, were the hoped futurity come, and I had no 
dependents. You well know that money to me is 
nothing, at least when I have any. Where am I 
going, whither leading others ? Have I made a good 
bargain by bartering my life, stormy as it was, but 
so mingled with enjoyments of which it was not in 
human power to deprive me, for a sterile activity, 
which snatches me even from the frequent and 
delightful effusions of your friendship ? You are to 
me but a statesman ; you, for the pressure of whose 
hand I would relinquish all the thrones on earth. 
Alas, I am much better formed for friendship than 
for politics. 

Post Scriptum, began at Helmstadt, and finished 
at Brunswick, October 14th, 1786. 

They write from Silberberg, in Silesia, that the 
King's carriage has been overturned, and that he has 
received contusions on the head and on the arm. 
The coachman, it is added, expired on the place. 
The news reached me yesterday, at Magdeburg, and 
the same has been written to General Prittwitz ; it 
probably exceeds the truth, but is not wholly without 
foundation. The extreme agitation of the Duke of 
Brunswick, and my own emotions, made me pro- 
foundly feel the fortunes that rest on this Monarch's 
head. The Duke immediately sent off a courier, and, 
as I shall follow him to Brunswick, where he wishes 



228 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

to speak to me at large concerning Holland, I shall 
learn more circumstantial intelligence, and such as 
will be indubitable. I have not time to add a 
single word ; I write while the horses are changed. 

From Brunswick, October 14th, 1786. 

Not having found an opportunity of sending off 
these few lines, I continue. 

I arrived here two hours before the Duke. As 
soon as he came to Brunswick, he wrote to me with a 
pencil, on a slip of paper : 

"I spoke yesterday evening, before I departed, 
with the Minister Coimt Schulemburg, who had left 
Berlin on the eleventh. He is in absolute ignorance 
of the alarming intelligence by which we were so 
much affected, and, as I have heard nothing on the 
subject since, I begin to have better hopes. I expect 
my courier will arrive early in the morning. I write 
you this, Monsieur le Comte, from my mother's, and 
I hope you will do me the favour to come to me early 
to-morrow morning and dine with us." 

It appears to be very probable that no material 
harm has happened to the Sovereign. 

The splendour of the talents and urbanity of the 
Duke appeared perfect at Magdeburg. Nothing 
could be more awful than his manoeuvres, nothing so 
instructive as his school, nothing so finished, so con- 
nected, so perfect, as his conduct in every respect. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 229 

He was the subject of admiration to a great number 
of foreigners, who had crowded to Magdeburg, and 
he certainly stood in no need of the contrast which 
the Duke of Weimar and the Prince of Dessau 
afforded, the latter the weakest of men, the former 
industriously labouring to be something, but ill pro- 
vided with requisites, if we are to judge him by 
appearances. He might and ought to become a 
Prince of importance. According to all probabil- 
ities, however. Saxony will devolve on him for want 
of children in the Electoral branch, and it is an 
afflicting perspective to contemplate the destruction 
of all the labours of the worthy Prince who at pres- 
ent governs the country, and who, tormented in his 
childhood, imhappy in youth, and truly respectable in 
manhood, will, perhaps, descend to the tomb with the 
bitter affliction of feeling that all the good he has 
done will be rendered ineffectual. 

I have learnt a fact which will afford some pleas- 
ure to M. de Segur, if he be still living. A foundry 
has been built at Hanover, at a great expense, which 
has cost the King of England near one hundred 
thousand livres. The Duke of Brunswick, not being 
satisfied with his own foundry, had two cannons 
cast at Hanover, and they were so ill cast that they 
were soon obliged to be laid aside. It is not to be 
supposed, when we recollect the connections between 



230 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

the Duke and the King of England, that this was 
occasioned by anj trick in the founders; the fact, 
therefore, is a proof that they are bad workmen. 

By the next courier I hope to send you the exact 
result of the dispositions of Berlin, and the Duke, 
relative to Holland. He has promised me a precise 
statement of the propositions which appear to him 
necessary, and he did not conceal the extreme desire 
he had that they should be accepted by France. 
These Dutch disturbances daily present a more 
threatening aspect for the repose of Europe, — if 
not at the present moment, at least from future con- 
tingencies, and the coolness and distrust to which 
they will give rise. 



LETTER XXXV. 

Brunswick, October 16th, 1786. 

The two conversations I have had with the Duke 
have hitherto been but vague respecting Holland, and 
indeed almost foreign to the subject. His courier, 
having brought him the news of hopes of an accom- 
modation, and of the retreat of the person who of all 
those concerned with M. de Veyrac was supposed to 
be the chief firebrand, having, in fine, brought him 
details which lead him to imagine that his inter- 
ference will not be necessary, or not yet wanted in 
Holland, he passed rapidly over the country to come 
to one which is of infinitely greater importance to 
him; I mean to say Prussia. He only discovered 
himself to be greatly averse to the party of the 
Stadtholder, and well convinced that the right of 
presentation ought to remain such as it was in its 
origin ; that the constitution of Gueldres, Frieseland, 
and Utrecht evidently was in want of reformation, 
with respect to the inconceivable regulation of the 
magistrates, who are revocable ad nutum ; that, in a 
word, the Prince, who from absolute monarchical 
authority, which he in reality possessed, was sunken 

231 



232 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

into absolute discredit, by conduct the most abject, 
and the folly of having claimed that as a right, in 
contempt of all law, all decency, and all popular 
prejudice, which he effectually possessed, was not 
deserving of the least support ; but that, from respect 
to Prussia, and particularly to retard commotions, it 
was requisite to restore him the decorum of pag- 
eantry, — except that watch should be kept over his 
connections. And here he explained himself on the 
subject of Harris, and even concerning Prince Louis 
of Brunswick, nearly in the manner I should have 
done myself. In conclusion, however, he not only 
did not inform me of anything on the subject, but 
he imperceptibly declined that debate which a few 
days before, he had provoked. 

I repeat, there is some news arrived of which I am 
ignorant, that has occasioned this change in his pro- 
ceedings. My information is in general much too 
confined. Thus, for example, it is very singular, nor 
is it less embarrassing, and, to speak plainly, it is 
tolerably ridiculous, that it should be the Duke who 
should inform me of the treaty of commerce signed 
between France and England, not one of the articles 
of which I am acquainted with, and on which 
occasion I knew not what face to wear. As my 
usual method is not to conceal myself behind any 
veil of mystery, which hides the insignificance of 
certain Ambassadors, the part I had to act was not a 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 233 

little difl&cult. I should learn a thousand times more 
were I myself better informed. In this, as in every- 
thing else, fortune follows the successful. 

Returning to Prussia, it was quite a different affair, 
for of this I know as much as the Duke. His confi- 
dence was the less limited, and the more profuse, 
because I presently set him at his ease with respect 
to Prince Henry, whom he neither loves nor esteems. 
I perceived with inquietude that his opinions and fears 
are similar to my own. He is dissatisfied with most 
of the proceedings and public acts of the King, with 
that crowd of titles, and that mass of nobility, which 
has been added so prodigally ; insomuch that it will 
be henceforward much more difficult to find a man 
than a nobleman in the Prussian States; with the 
promise made to the Prince of Dessau (whose only 
merit is such an excess of enthusiasm for mysticism 
and ^asionaries that, when Lavater came to Bremen, 
he addressed the most earnest supplications to him to 
come and pay him a visit, in order that he might 
adore him), and perhaps with that given to the Duke 
of Weimar (who to the same inclinations, and more 
lively passions, adds greater understanding ; but who 
is too much in debt for his military projects to be 
otherwise regarded than as a money speculation), 
to restore the one and to admit the other into the 
Prussian service ; by which rank in the army will be 
violated, and the army discouraged and vitiated, — 



234 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

a system very opposite to that of Frederick II., who 
said of the few grandees who were employed in his 
time, " In the name of God, my dear Moellendorf , rid 
me of these Princes.''^ The Duke is equally dissat- 
isfied with that fluctuation which occasions essays to 
he made on twenty systems at once ; with the most 
of the persons chosen ; with domestic disorder ; with 
nocturnal rites, and with the anecdotes the augury of 
which from day to day becomes more inauspiciously 
characteristic, etc., etc. In a word, should I tran- 
scribe our conversation, I should but send new copies 
of old despatches. 

" Believe me," said he, " I may, in a certain degree, 
serve you as a thermometer, for if I perceive there 
are no hopes of a firm and noble regimen, and that 
therefore the day of the house of Brandenburg is 
come, I shall not be the last to sound a retreat. I 
never received money from the King of Prussia, and 
I am well determined never to accept anything from 
him, though I mean to remain in the service. It has, 
as you have seen, been a dear service to me. I am 
independent. I wish to pay a tribute of respect to 
the memory of the great man who is no more, and am 
ready to shed my blood, if that might cement his 
work ; but I will not, even by my presence, become 
the accomplice of its demolition. Our debts never 
exceed our abilities. I shall provide in the best 
manner in my power for my country and my chil- 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 235 

dren; these I shall leave in great order. I keep up 
my family connections. We perhaps shall be the last 
who will be smitten by the overthrow of the Germanic 
body, because of the confraternity which unites us to 
the Elector of Hanover. I, therefore, shall no fur- 
ther follow the destiny of the Prussian monarchy 
than as its Government shall maintain its wisdom, its 
dignity, etc., etc." 

At present the Duke despairs of nothing ; and in 
this he is right. He supposes that no person has yet 
found his proper place :• I think like him, and I per- 
ceive he hopes his turn will come ; of this neither can 
I doubt, unless the annihilation of the Prussian power 
has been decreed by fate. 

He has informed me of the very singular fact that 
M. de Custine, the father, has demanded to be ad- 
mitted into the service of the King of Prussia, and 
has pretended to disclose all the hostile plans of the 
Emperor, whose alliance, nevertheless, this same M. 
de Custine loudly affirms will terminate, with France, 
the day that Prince Kaunitz dies. 

The Duke is very far from being relieved of all his 
fears concerning the projects of the Emperor, whose 
puissance and advisers he holds in infinite dread. 
True it is that his inconsistency should render his 
designs and the execution of them abortive ; that the 
irrationality of his personal conduct should hasten 
his end ; that the Archduke Francis appears to be a 



236 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

cipher; that among the persons who have influence 
there is not one formidable man, especially in the 
army ; and that Alventzy and Kinsky, the one manu- 
facturer for the infantry, and the other for the 
cavalry, possess only ambiguous abilities, etc. But 
men start up at the moment when they are the least 
expected ; accident only is necessary to rank them in 
their proper place. Conde, Spinola, and the Duke 
of Brunswick himself, prove that it is possible to be 
born a general. There is a Prince of Waldeck in the 
Austrian army, who, it is said, announces grand 
talents. 

The numerous, trifling anecdotes, which the Duke 
and I have mutually related to each other, would be 
too tedious for insertion, and out of their place also 
here. An anecdote, merely as such, is equally devoid 
of propriety and information; such will have their 
turn hereafter ; but there is one which relates too 
much to the Russian system for it to be passed over 
in silence. 

The Czarina has, for some months past, appropri- 
ated to herself the possession and the revenues of the 
posts of Courland, leaving a small part only to the 
Duke, in order that this branch of administration 
might not appear to be wholly in the hands of for- 
eigners. Thus does this same Russia, that maintains 
an envoy at Courland, although there is none at Cour- 
land from Petersburg, and that here, as in Poland, 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 237 

proclaims her will to the Duke and to the States, by 
her Ambassador, who is the real Sovereign of the 
country, — this Russia, that, for some years past, 
has unequivocally and openly declared that a certain 
canton of Courland appertained to her, and without 
seeking any other pretext than that of giving a more 
uniform line to her limits, makes no secret of not 
understanding any other code, any other claims, any 
other manifestoes, than those which the Gauls al- 
leged to the Etruscans — "Our right exists in our 
arms. Whatever the strong can seize upon that is 
the right of the strong." She will one of these days 
declare Courland is hers, that the Polish Ukraine is 
hers, and that Finland is hers. And, for example, 
this latter revolution, which will be a very salutary 
one to her because she will then truly become unat- 
tackable, and almost inaccessible, to all Europe 
united, will be effected, whenever she shall make 
the attempt, if we do not take good heed. Whenever 
the time may come that I shall be informed of this 
having taken place, and even of the new system of 
Sweden being totally overthrown, I shall not feel any 
surprise. 

The Duke also told me that the Emperor is greatly 
improving his artillery; that his six -pounders are 
equivalent in force to our former eight - pounders ; 
and to this advantage they add that of lightness, in 
so great a degree, that only four horses are necessary 



238 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

to draw them, while even in Prussia six are still 
requisite. As well as I remember he attributes this 
double improvement to the conical* construction of 
the chamber. I only relate this that you may verify 
the truth of the fact by people who are acquainted 
with such affairs ; the diminution of two horses in 
eight being a thing of infinite importance, and the 
more so as there would be a servant the less. 

The manner in which I have been received by the 
Duke was infinitely friendly on his part, though some- 
what participating, as far as relates to freedom of 
conversation, of my equivocal mode of existence at 
Berlin. I believe I may, without presumption, affirm 
I am not disagreeable to this Prince, and that, were I 
accredited by any commission whatever, I should be 
one of the most proper persons to treat with him 
with efficacy. This able man appears to me to have 
but one weakness, which is the prodigious dread of 
having his reputation injured, even by the most con- 
temptible Zoilus. Yet has he lately exposed himself 
to vexatious blame in deference to his first Minister, 
M. von Feronce, which I cannot comprehend. This 
M. von Feronce, and M. von Munchausen, Grand Mas- 
ter of the Court, a man who is reported to have little 
delicacy concerning money matters, have farmed the 
lottery, — an action shameful in itself, and which I 
cannot reconcile to Von Feronce, who is really a man 

* Faite en poire (made in the form of a pear.) 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 239 

of merit. Two merchants, named Oeltz and Noth- 
nagel, have gained a quaterne, which is equivalent to 
the sum of eighteen thousand crowns. The payment 
of this has not only been refused, but as it was 
necessary to act with fraud to effect their purpose, the 
merchants have undergone numerous oppressions; 
they have even been imprisoned; all which acts 
they have lately published in a printed case, which 
contains nothing but the facts concerning the suit, 
and have laid an appeal against the Duke, or against 
his judges, before the tribunal of Wetzlar ; I own I 
do not understand this absence of firmness, or of 
circumspection. 

October 17th, 1786. 

Postscript. — I have just received authentic intelli- 
gence concerning the King of Prussia. It was one 
of his chasseurs to whom a very serious accident 
happened; the Monarch himself is in good health, 
and will arrive on the eighteenth or the nineteenth at 
Berlin. 

I learn, at the same time, that Count Finckenstein 
is dying of an inflammation of the lungs, with which 
he was seized after a very warm altercation with 
Count Hertzberg, on the subject of Holland. His 
life is despaired of, and his loss to us will be very 
great; as well because he was absolutely ours, as 
because that, being a temporiser by nature, he would 



240 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

have acted as the moderator of Prince Henry. He 
would also have directed the conduct of Mademoiselle 
Yoss, after the fall of virtue ; and finally because 
Hertzberg will no longer have any counterpoise. 
With respect to the latter point, however, I am not 
averse to suppose that the time when this presumptu- 
ous man shall be in absolute discredit may but be the 
more quickly accelerated. Yet, not to mention the 
sterility of subjects by which this epocha may be 
retarded, who shall answer that a man so violent, 
and wholly imbued as he is with the hatred which 
the Germans in general bear the French, will not 
venture to make some very decisive false steps ? 

The Duke of York arrived here this evening, and 
had he been the Emperor he could not have been 
treated with more respect, especially by the Duchess 
and the courtiers. She, indeed, is wholly English, as 
well in her inclinations and her principles as in her 
manners ; insomuch that her almost cynical inde- 
pendence, opposed to the etiquette of the Courts of 
German Princes, forms the most singular contrast I 
know. I do not, however, believe that there is any 
question concerning the marriage of the Princess 
Caroline, who is a most amiable, lively, playful, witty, 
and handsome lady ; the Duke of York, a puissant 
hunter, a potent drinker, an indefatigable laugher, 
destitute of breeding and politeness, and who pos- 
sesses, at least in appearance, much of the Duke de 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 241 

Lausiin, as well in mind as in person, is inspired with 
a kind of passion for a woman married to a jealous 
husband, who torments him, and will not suffer him 
to fix his quarters. I know not whether he will go 
to Berlin. The versions relative to him are various. 
Some afl&rm that, after having been an unbridled lib- 
ertine, he feels a returning desire of doing his duty. 
For my own part, I find in him all the stiffness of a 
German Prince, with a double dose of English inso- 
lence, but wanting the free cordiality of that nation. 



LETTER XXXYI. 

Brunswick, October 27th, 1786. 

I HERE send you the continuation and conclusion of 
the preceding dispatch, to which I add the translation 
of a pamphlet, the singularity of which is increased 
by its having appeared at Vienna, with the permis- 
sion of the Emperor; who, to the communication 
made by the censor, has added these very words, 
" Let this pass among others." 

This is but a trifle compared to that caprice which 
three days afterwards induced him to release the 
unfortunate Szekely, whom the most powerful remon- 
strances could not save, and whose cause is here * ill 
enough defended. For what conclusions might he 
not have drawn from the confidence with which he 
imparted to the Emperor the situation of his ac- 
counts, from the disorder by which they had been 
brought into this state, from the ardent supplications 
he made him to purchase for the public a well-tried 
chemical secret at such a price as would have com- 
pleted the deficiency in his accounts (I say completed, 

* By the word here, the author means in the pamphlet, to which the 
reader will immediately come. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 243 

for Szekely and his family had paid the greatest part 
of the deficiencies), and from the answer of the 
Emperor himself, — " Do you address yourself to me 
as to a friend, or as to the Emperor? If to the 
former, I cannot be the friend of a man who has not 
been faithful to his trust. If as Emperor, I would 
advise you to go in person and make your declaration 
to the courts of justice." 

This fact, which I have learnt since my arrival at 
Berlin, attended with most aggravating circimistances, 
is one of the most odious I can recollect, yet might I 
relate fifty of the same species. 

Free observations on the Crime and Punishment of 
Lieutenant- Colonel Szekely, of the (xuards, by a 
Friend of Truth, 1786. 

Let the voice of truth be heard, let her at present 
be seen without disguise, without veil, in all her awful 
nakedness. Hear, ye incorrupt * judges. I am about 
to speak of the crime and punishment of Szekely. 
My heart melts, but my words shall be impartial. 

* From the life of Baron Trenck, from the present fact, and from 
numerous others, it appears that the appeal and the apostrophe are 
absurd. Trenck informs us that his judges, after having held their offices 
for a succession of years, were at last condemned to be the common scav- 
engers of Vienna. The picture he gives of their intrigues, their corrup- 
tion, and their vices, is beyond conception horrible. How can man dare 
to vaunt of the wisdom of the age, which has not yet discovered that 
justice, in its most extensive sense, is the most necessary, as weU as the 
sublimest, attribute of man. 



244 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS 

Hear and pronounce sentence on me, on Szekely, and 
on those who pronounced sentence on him. 

Szekely announces a deficiency in the regimental 
chest of the guards, and the disorder of his accounts; 
and after some pretended examinations is brought 
before the Council of War. Ninety-seven thousand 
florins of the Empire have disappeared ; but Szekely 
had placed his whole confidence in the Sieur Lakner, 
who is deceased, and who was the only keeper of 
the keys of the chest. Szekely had more than once 
declared that he himself was a very improper person 
to have pecuniary matters committed to his charge, 
and that he never had revised nor verified the 
accounts of the regimental chest confided to his care. 
He therefore cannot be suspected of personal fraud, 
especially when his regiment renders justice to the 
goodness of his manners, and unanimously points out 
the cashier Lakner as a person who was debased by 
meannesses, and rendered suspicious by incurring 
expenses infinitely above his fortune. 

This, it is very true, was an exceedingly culpable 
negligence, but such was the only crime of Szekely ; 
and it was for this reason that the Council of War 
condemned him to be imprisoned six years in a 
fortress. The punishment was doubtless in itself 
sufiicient, since Szekely, in effect, and according to 
the language of the civilians, was Nee confessus nee 
eonvietus of any prevarication; yet was it aggravated 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 245 

by the Aulic * Council of War, which was com- 
manded to make a revision of the process, and which 
increased his detention to a duration of eight years. 
Was this tribunal ignorant, then, that it is a custom 
with our most gracious Monarch himself to increase 
the severity of all sentences pronounced against crim- 
inals ? Let us, therefore, believe that the judges, on 
this occasion, were only obedient to the rigour of the 
laws ; but the after decision of the Emperor will 
most assuredly appear inconceivable. The following 
is the judgment which this Monarch uttered — yes! 
uttered, yet did not blush : 

" Szekely must, without hesitation, be broken, de- 
clared incapable of military service, and delivered 
over to the civil officer, who shall convey him to 
the place where the crime was committed in Vienna, 
where he shall stand in the pillory for three succes- 
sive days, and remain two hours each day on a scaf- 
fold, in the high market-place, that his example may 
be of public utility. As a favour and in consequence of 
his age, I limit the eight years' imprisonment to which 
he is condemned to four, during which he shall be 
confined at Segedin, a penal prison of the civil power of 
the Hungarian States, where he shall receive the same 
allowance for food as is granted to other criminals." 

The court of justice made remonstrances to the 

* We cannot find a better parallel to this AvZic councU than the f or« 
merly infamous Court of Star Chamber. 



246 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

Emperor, in which it proved that the punishment was 
much too severe, and entirely contrary to law and to 
equity; but the Emperor continued inflexible, and 
thus confirmed his sentence : 

" All superintendents of military chests might, like 
Szekely, plead that they knew not what was become 
of the money, even though it should have been stolen 
by themselves. Whenever there is a deficiency in 
any chest, and especially of a sum so considerable as 
ninety-seven thousand florins, there is no necessity for 
the judge to prove that the money has been taken by 
the accused person, but the accused person must shew 
that it has not been taken by him ; and whenever he 
cannot demonstrate this he himself is the thief. As 
soon as Szekely shall have been broken, and shall be no 
longer an officer, the sentence against him shall be put 
in execution, and a paper shall be fixed round his neck, 
on which shall be written — An unfaithful steward." 

Let us take an attentive retrospect of these 
supreme decisions. 

Szekely is punishable for having been exceedingly 
negligent; he is the same for having bestowed his 
whole confidence on a dishonest cashier, of whose 
pompous luxury he could not be ignorant, since it 
gave offence to the whole corps of the guards. It 
was easy to conclude ., that such a man could not live 
at an expense so great on his paternal income. It is 
even probable that Szekely himself, perceiving the 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 247 

disorder of his accounts, and the deficiency in his 
chest, and terrified by the infamy and punishment 
inflicted on such crimes, sacrificed much to alchemy 
and the occult sciences, in the hope of making gold, 
and of thus freeing himself from his embarrassments. 
This, no doubt, was a folly at which all men of sense 
would grieve ; it is not, however, the less possible. 
It is certain that the love of chemistry was the ruling 
passion of Szekely, and that he indulged his inclina- 
tions the more because hie expected sometime thus to 
recover his losses. To this excuse let us add the 
extreme ignorance of which he accused himself in 
all that related to pecuniary affairs. 

True it is that, with such a conviction of his own 
incapacity, he never ought to have taken charge of a 
regimental chest ; but were all those who are in pos- 
session of places, the duties of which are far beyond 
their abilities, obliged to abdicate them, what vast 
deserts would our public offices afford ! Rabner 
encourages three different species of men, * by saying, 
" On whom God bestows an office he also bestows a 
sufiicient degree of understanding for the exercise of 
that office." Szekely would not indubitably have 
adopted this opinion, could he have foreseen the evil 
consequences of his presumption. 

Was not that fiatterino; letter which was addressed 



* I know not why three different species, or what three ; I can but 
follow my author. 



248 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

to him by Maria Theresa, of glorious memory, in 
which, while she gave the highest praises to his 
probity and loyalty, this august Sovereign confided to 
his care, without any caution, the regimental chest of 
the guards, an authentic testimony in behalf of his 
honour ? Has it been meant by the forgetfulness of 
this distinction to add a new outrage to all the 
ingratitudes with which some have sullied themselves, 
relative to this immortal Empress ? Was it intended 
to tax her with that le^dty, that silly credulity, which 
blind confidence produces ? Alas ! in despite of all 
the defects which envy so gratuitously imputes to her, 
Maria Theresa never was surrounded by such an 
army of knaves as those from whom all the rigour of 
the present Sovereign cannot preserve us. So true is 
it that gentleness and love, from a Prince toward his 
subjects, are more efficacious means, to preserve them 
within the bounds of duty, than all the violent acts 
tyranny can commit. 

I return to Szekely and affirm it is impossible that 
this letter from the Empress Queen, though in some 
sort the pledge of the fidelity of Szekely, can serve as 
an excuse to the Prince of Esterhazy, whose personal 
negligence cannot be justified. Did not his right, as 
chief of the guards, impose it on him as a law to 
examine the regimental chest of Szekely ? And is 
not such an infraction of the duties of his place most 
reprehensible ? 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 249 

Still less can be offered in defence of the fault 
committed by the Hungaro-Transylvanian chancery ; 
since, according to its instructions, it was in like 
manner bound to inspect the administration of 
Szekely. But none of the acts of this superior 
Court ought to inspire astonishment, since it is no 
longer distinguished, except by disorder and ill faith ; 
since its responsibility is no longer anything but a 
word ; and since its ideas of exact calculation, and 
of receipt and expense, are exactly as just as those of 
Brambille* are on physic. 

Judges, ye have condemned Szekely. Be it so. 
Act worthy of your office. Punish his superintend- 
ents also, who have by a non - performance of their 
duty placed him on the brink of that abyss into which 
you headlong plunged him, without humanity, and 
void of shame. 

The Kings of Europe have all reserved to them- 
selves the most benevolent of prerogatives ; that of 
pardoning the guilty, or of softening the pains the 
sentence inflicts by which they are condemned. 
Joseph alone persists in other principles, more con- 

* This Brambille is first surgeon to the Emperor, by whom he has 
been ennobled, and who has made him inspector of the medical and chi- 
rurgical academies. He is said to be an ignorant quack, and a violent 
satire has lately been written against him, which, if report speaks truth, 
is very pleasant. This satire has been licensed and publicly sold at 
Vienna, which is another singular fact, and tends to prove that pasquin- 
ades will be much rather suffered, in Austria, than instructive and free 
'works. 



250 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

formable to the feelings of his heart. He aggravates 
the punishment of the wretched. Alas! this no 
doubt is but to enjoy the ecstatic pleasure of terrify- 
ing his people, by the exercise of the most unlimited 
despotism. Unfortunate Szekely! Ill-starred man! 
I pity thee. Thou fallest a victim to the splenetic 
temper of the Monarch ! Perhaps, at the very instant 
when he pronounced thy doom, a troublesome fly 
stung his brow, and thy dishonour was his vengeance. 
Deplorable sacrifice of a tyrannical and barbarous 
heart, yes, I pity thee ! Men of worth, men of jus- 
tice, what must the Monarch be who can add to the 
rigour of the Judge? — a tyrant! What can the 
Monarch be who tramples under foot the rights of 
humanity ? — A tyrant ! ! What can the Monarch 
be who can make the laws and the justice of his 
kingdom his sport ? — A tyrant ! ! ! What can the 
Monarch be who in criminal decisions shall act only 
according to his caprice ? — A Joseph ! ! ! ! 

A Joseph ! — Oh, God ! Great God ! What then 
is man ? A poor and feeble creature, whom an impe- 
rious oppressor may at any moment reduce to dust ; 
or may rend his heart, extort his last sigh, by the 
seven thousand raging torments which the Hydra 
with seven thousand heads in sport inflicts. 

Dreadful image ! Ignominious to humanity, yet 
wofuUy true, wofuUy exact, wofully confirmed by 
experience ! Does not a Sovereign who increases the 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 251 

rigour of sentences openly proclaim : " Ye Judges, 
whom I have appointed to judge according to law 
and equity, ye are prevaricators; ye have betrayed 
your trust, falsified your consciences, and have en- 
deavoured to practise deceit upon me ? " Such mag- 
istrates, therefore, ought not to be continued in office ; 
for, to suffer them still to be Judges is to approve 
their conduct, and confirm their judgment. But, 
destructive as the thunderbolt, the Monarch, address- 
ing them, exclaims : " Your sentence is too mild ! It 
is my will arbitrarily to increase punishment, that I 
may prove myself the master of life and death ! '* 
What language, oh, God ! from the mouth of a King 
whom thou hast appointed to be om- protector, and 
not our tyrant ! 

Szekely would never have been condemned, had he 
not been intimately connected with the Freemasons. 
When the Emperor pronomiced sentence against this 
unfortunate man, he forgot himself so far as to say, 
" I will let those gentry (the Freemasons) understand 
there is no efficacy in their protection." 

Where then is the equity of a Monarch who thus 
prostitutes the power he is in possession of, to the 
destruction of one of the members of a society which 
he detests ? Who would not smile contemptuously at 
the poor malice of a peasant who should go in search 
of his neighbour, after twilight, that he might unseen 
give him a fillip on the nose, run away, and divert 



252 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

himself with having played him so cunning a trick. 
Oh, Justice ! Justice I Shalt thou forever have eyes 
that thou mayst not see ? 

Yes, debased, corrupted was the mouth which 
increased the rigour of the sentence of Szekely, who 
previously had been destined to languish eight years 
in prison. Joseph has diminished the term of his 
detention. And are these then thy favours, sceptred 
executioner ? Yes, this favour granted to a man of 
quality, who was for three successive days exposed in 
the pillory, resembles that which a criminal, con- 
demned to the gallows, should receive from thee, 
whom thou shouldst permit to be racked upon the 
wheel, because he was too feeble to mount the ladder. 

Couldst thou have survived the shame of such a 
crime, had not thy people themselves applauded thy 
fury ? The curiosity with which all Vienna enjoyed 
the spectacle the wretched Szekely afforded, proves 
that the manners of thy subjects already partake of 
thine own barbarity. But let them tremble, slaves as 
they are, bowed beneath the yoke. A new Nero 
promises new crimes, new horrors ! 



LETTER XXXVn. 

Beunswick, October 18th, 1786. 

I PEAR there are some waverings in the mind of 
the King, relative to Holland ; for the Duke, after the 
arrival of his courier, and receiving information of 
the danger of Count Finckenstein, again spoke to me 
on the subject, with a degree of inquietude which was 
far from dissembled. The following were his precise 
words : " Holland will certainly occasion a war, espe- 
cially should the death of the Elector of Bavaria inter- 
vene ; do you act, therefore, as mediators to smother 
the rising flames. Come, come, the Stadtholder must 
have a council, without which he can perform noth- 
ing ; and how shall this council be selected ? " 

I replied to the Duke that I was not sufficiently 
acquainted with those affairs to give any opinion on 
the subject, but that I was going to make him a prop- 
osition which he must regard as only ideal, and as 
coming from myself, although it might by no means 
be impracticable. 

"Now that I know how far I can depend upon 
your prudence and your principles," I continued, " I 
am certain that you will see the affairs and the con- 

263 



254 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

duct of the Stadtholder in their true light; "tiiat you 
will not imagine friendship in politics can have any 
other basis than interest; or that we ought to 
renoimce our alliance with Holland, in order that the 
Princess of Orange may nightly enjoy more agreeable 
dreams ; that you cannot but comprehend how much 
it is impossible for us to place any confidence in 
Count Hertzberg, who, relative to us, is frenetic, and 
how much our distrust may be increased should our 
sole counterpoise to this violent Minister disappear by 
the death of Count Finckenstein. I shall, therefore, 
thus far, willingly step forward to say that it appears 
to me very probable France will be inclined to treat 
on this affair with you singly, should the King of 
Prussia consent that you should be solely trusted 
with the business on his behalf ; and, as I may say, 
should you be made arbitrator. I feel how important 
it is to you, to us, and to all, that you should not 
endanger yourseK in the opinion of His Majesty. 
There are already but too many causes of distance 
existing between you, and the country is entirely lost 
if the necessities of the times do not oblige you to 
take the helm. But, should you find the crisis so 
alarming as to dread decisive events should be the 
consequence, it appears to me that then it will no 
longer be proper to keep beating against the wind. 
For, if the King of Prussia be fated to commit 
irreparable faults, it would be as well for all parties 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 255 

that he should begin tomorrow, in order that we 
might the sooner augur what his reign shall be, and 
choose our sides in consequence. It is for you, there- 
fore, to know in what degree of favour you are with 
the King. He cannot love you ; for never yet did the 
weak man love the strong. He cannot desire you 
should be his Minister, for never yet did a vain and 
dark man desire to possess one who was himself illus- 
trious and luminous. But it is neither his friendship 
nor his inclination that are necessary to you ; it is 
power. You ought to acquire that ascendency over 
him which a grand character and a vast genius may 
ever acquire over a confined understanding and an 
unstable mind. If you have enough of this ascen- 
dency to inspire him with fears for his situation ; to 
convince him that he is already betrayed to danger ; 
that the sending of Goertz, in your despite (or, 
rather, without your knowledge, for you were not 
then at Berlin), is a blunder of magnitude, which has 
been committed without possessing the least pledge of 
docility on the part of the Stadtholder; that the in- 
considerate letters of Hertzberg form another equal 
blunder ; that this Minister pursues his personal inter- 
ests, and those only, at the hazard of depriving his 
master of personal respect, even from the commence- 
ment of his reign ; since it is very evident that, if he 
persist in his thoughtless interference (be supposi- 
tions as favourable, nay, almost as romantic, as you 



i256 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

please), he will only have played the cards of the 
English, although they have spoilt their own game — 
if you can make him sensible of all this, you will 
easily be able to persuade him that he will but be too 
fortunate in accepting your mediation. And, although 
mediation is not exactly the phrase which may be 
employed, because it does not exactly square vsdth the 
rule of proportion, such is the esteem in which you 
are held by the Cabinet of Versailles that, should this 
negotiation once be committed to your care, all diffi- 
•culties will vanish of themselves. Such a measure, 
therefore, would have the double advantage of accom- 
modating the affair, which you regard as the brand 
of discord, and of teaching the King to feel that he 
presumes too much if he imagines that, by the sole 
magic of the abrupt and tudescan * French of Count 
Hertzberg, he will be able to preserve the same 
respect for his Court which a succession of great acts, 
heroical prosperity, vigilant activity, and perseverance, 
€ven to a miracle, for forty-six years, have procured 
it ; that he has need of a man whose name abroad 
and whose influence at home should attract confi- 
dence and serve as the keystone to an arch which, 
according to its dimensions, has but little solidity ; or, 
to speak without a metaphor, a kingdom, ill-situated, 
ill-constituted, ill-governed, and which possesses no 
ireal strength, except in opinion, since its military 

* German. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 25T 

position is wretched and its resources precarious. 
For, with respect to the treasury, it will vanish if a 
hand of iron, yet not a hand of avarice, should not 
guard it ; and, as to an army, who can be more con- 
vinced than you are, that years scarcely are sufficient 
for its formation ; but that six months of relaxed dis- 
cipline may degrade it so that it shall no longer be 
cognisable ?" 

This discourse, which fixed the attention of the 
Duke, and which was particularly intended to divine 
what he himself imagined he might be able to accom- 
plish, and what he might become, appeared to pro- 
duce a very great effect. Instead of beginning, as- 
he always does, by ambiguous and dilatory phrases, 
which may serve any purpose he shall please, he 
immediately entered into the spirit of my discourse, 
and, after having felt and owned, with an effusion of 
heart and a penetrating tone, that I presented him a 
prospect of the greatest honour his imagination pould 
conceive, and which he should prefer to the gaining 
of six victories, he joined with me in endeavouring to 
find some means of making the overture to the-' 
King. 

"I do not imagine," said he, "my situation will 
authorise the attempt without previous measures. I 
am more afraid of injuring the cause than of injuring 
myself, but it is certainly necessary the project should 
be conveyed to him, and, should he afford the least 



258 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

opportunity, I will explain everything. Cannot you 
speak to Count Finckenstein, should he recover ? " 

" No, for he strictly confines himseK to his depart- 
ment. Neither is this anything more than an idea 
of my own, and of small diplomatic value, since I 
have no credentials." 

" You have but few opportunities of speaking in 
private to Welner ? " 

" Very few. Beside, how can that man ever be 
devoted to you ? He determines to act the principal 
part himself. He is industrious for his own interest, 
being very sensible that, because of his obscurity, he 
has an immense advantage over you, not to mention 
that he is the intimate friend of your brother, who 
does not wish your company at Berlin." 

In fact, this brother hates the Duke, by whom he 
is despised, and hopes for favour and influence under 
the reign of mysticism. 

We had proceeded thus far in our discourse when 
the whole Court, leaving the opera for supper, and 
the Duke of York, by entering without any precursor, 
obliged us to break off. He has appointed to meet 
me this morning, the day of my departure, at nine 
o'clock, and to him I am now going. 

The Duke, as I expected, was shaken to-day in his 
resolution of having himself named to the King. I 
say as I expected, for his brilliant imagination and 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 259 

ambitious energy easily catch fire at Ms first emo- 
tions, although he should betray no exterior symp- 
toms except those of tranquillity. But the rein he 
has so long put upon his passions, which he has 
eternally had under command, and in which habit 
he has been most persevering, reconducts him to the 
hesitation of experience, and to that superabundant 
circumspection which his great diffidence of mankind, 
and his foible, I mean his dread of losing his reputa- 
tion, incessantly inspire. He made a circumstantial 
display of the delicacy with which the petty glory, 
or, to speak plainly, said he, the vainglory of the 
King must be managed. 

Taking up the conversation at the point where we 
had left it, he assured me that, with respect to 
"Welner, I was deceived ; that he was one of the per- 
sons in Berlin on whom he depended, and who 
rather wished to see him in power than any other ; 
that I might easily speak with hiTn at the house of 
Moulines (his resident, an artful man, but too osten- 
sibly artful, ready to serve that he may better per- 
form his ofiice of spy, but proffering his services with 
too much facility ; appointed to take part in the edu- 
cation of the Prince of Prussia, but, hitherto, without 
any title ; a deserter from Prince Henry, since it has 
become pretty evident the Prince will never be in 
power; inclined to serve France, in general, and, 
indeed, too visibly, for he is styled the Privy Coun- 



260 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

sellor of Comte d' Esterno, but, in his heart, solely 
attached to himself) ; that Welner goes there very 
often ; that he certainly would not speak openly, at 
first, but that he would at length repeat to the King 
whatever I should say. 

The Duke often reiterated that he thought it use- 
less and dangerous for him to be named, and, in fine, 
although with difficulty, and, as I may say, against 
his inclination, he gave me the true reason. In a fort- 
night, he was to be at Berlin, or, perhaps, sooner, for 
(take particular notice of what follows) it appears 

THAT THE HOPE AFFORDED BY SlR JaMES HaRRIS (the 

English Ambassador at The Hague) op a powerful 

AND efficacious SUCCOUR, SHOULD THE KiNG OF PRUS- 
SIA RESOLVE, WITH AN ARMED FORCE, TO CREATE HIMSELF 
UMPIRE OF THE AFFAIRS OF HOLLAND, HAS INSPIRED 

THE King with a wish to confer with his servants. 
I literally repeat the words the Duke pronounced, 
who fixed his eyes upon me, but whom I defy not 
only to have observed the least trait of emotion in 
my countenance, but still more iiot to have been 
struck with a smile, almost imperceptible and very 
ironical, as if I had known and contemned the fact. 
My only reply at the end of his sentence was, shrug- 
ging up my shoulders : 

" There is little need I should remark to you, mon- 
seigneur, that the conquest which Louis XIV., Tu- 
renne, De Cond^, De Luxembourg, De Louvois, and 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 261 

two hundred thousand French, could not make of 
Holland, will never be effected by Prussia, watched 
bj the Emperor, on that same country, now that it is 
supported by France." * 

The Duke therefore is going, or wishes to make us 
believe he is going, to Berlin; where deliberations 
are to be held on the propositions of England. 

So be it. So much the better. Do not be 
alarmed. The Duke is rather German than Prus- 
sian, and as good a statesman as he is a great war- 
rior. He will prove such a proposition to be so 
absurd that it is probably no more than the per- 
sonal conception of the audacious and artful Harris, 
who wishes, at any expense, to make his fortune, and 
in a fit of madness to poniard his nation, which is 
more able than sage. 

Still, however, I think my journey to Brunswick is 
a lucky accident ; for I confess, and with great pleas- 
ure, I found the principles of the Duke to be moder- 
ate, prudent, and, politically speaking, wholly French. 
I depicted the affair, or rather affairs, as a whole, 
under new points of view; and if, as I persist in 
believing, or rather as I have believed more strongly 
since I have known that he depends upon Welner for 
strengthening his party, his measures have long been 
taken (for Welner has been a canon at Halberstadt, 

•Here it must be confessed the traveller was a false prophet, but 
■whether it was precisely his fault still remains to be enquired. 



262 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

where the regiment of the Duke remains), if, I say, 
the necessity of accident should oblige him to take the 
helm, I shall have acquired the greatest advantages 
to treat with and make him a party in our designs. 

He has desired I would give Comte d' Esterno the 
very good advice, should Count Finckenstein die, or 
even should he not, to demand to treat on the affairs 
of Holland, and on all that relates to them, immedi- 
ately with His Majesty. This is the most certain 
means of battering Hertzberg in breach, who cer- 
tainly has been controverted with great firmness in 
these affairs by the King, and to obtain that which 
we shall seem only to expect from the judgment and 
personal will of the Monarch. It is a proceeding 
which is successful with all Kings, even with the 
greatest. Vanswieten obtained from Frederick H. 
himself the most important concessions by acting 
thus ; and this is certainly a much more safe, as it 
is a more noble mode, than all the deceitful efforts 
which flattery can employ with Prince Henry, whose 
glaring protection is more injurious to the French 
embassy than it ever can be productive of good, 
under the most favourable contingencies. For I am 
not very unapt to believe, as the Duke affirms with- 
out disguise, that this partition Prince^* were he 

* Ce Prince partageur: alluding, no doubt, to the dismemberment of 
Poland, in which he was as laudably active as the just, the philosophic, 
the GREAT King, his brother, and from motives equally pure, as will be 
seen from the anecdote of the statue, related in the second volume. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 263 

master of affairs, would be the most dangerous of the 
enemies of Germanic freedom. I must conclude, for 
I have not time to cipher ; the remainder of this in- 
estimable conversation will be sent you hereafter. 
Inform me, with all possible expedition, how I ought 
to act under the present circumstances, and be per- 
suaded that, if you can find any means whatever of 
giving me secret official credit with the Eang, or even 
with the Duke, you will act very wisely. 

Additional Note. 

If you do not imagine I am totally doting, mark 
me. I conjure you to read, and cause this to be read, 
with the utmost attention ; and not to suffer me to 
wait a single moment for an answer, even though it 
should be absolutely necessary, for this purpose, to 
borrow some few hours from the levity of the coun- 
try, or to be consistent for a whole day together. 



LETTER XXXYIII. 

Beelin, October 21st, 1786. 

I AREIVED at half -past five in the morning. The 
King was to exercise his cavalry at six. I immedi- 
ately mounted my horse, that I might discover the 
state of his health, observe what aspect he wore, and 
if possible to find some person to whom I might ad- 
dress myself. His health is good, his brow cloudy ; 
the troops were obliged to wait a considerable time, 
and after two charges he very abruptly and very 
ridiculously retired. Nothing sufficiently new or im- 
portant has come to my knowledge to prevent my 
employing the few remaining moments before the 
departure of the courier, and which are greatly 
abridged by your eight pages of ciphers, in resum- 
ing the consequences which I have drawn from the 
very interesting conversation, an account of which I 
gave you in my last despatch. It is impossible I 
should send you a complete and circumstantial narra- 
tive of all that passed, because that the Duke, an 
hour after I had left him, having sent me his Minis- 

264 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 265 

ter for Foreign Affairs (M. von Ardensberg von Re- 
ventlau), I have too much to add. 

Four particulars appeared to me evident. 

I. That, during the confidential conference with 
the Duke, a great complication of sensation, emotion, 
and design was mingled. He wishes we should aid 
him in becoming Prime Minister of Prussia, but 
that we should act with caution. He is not con- 
vinced that we desire to see him in that post (I did 
everything in my power to persuade him of it), yet 
perfectly satisfied that any interference in the affairs 
of Holland would be a stupid error, he is anxious 
that Prussia should act with propriety, and that, in 
this affair at least, we should acquire influence. He, 
therefore, while he informed me, endeavoured to 
discover if I already had any information, and 
whether we were determined in the pursuit of our 
projects. To the same purport were the after com- 
mentaries of Ardensberg, his deceptive confidences, 
and Gazette secrets, the recall, not only of M. de 
Coetloury,* but also of M. de Veyrac, our desertion 
of the patriotic party, etc., etc., to all which particu- 
lars I replied with a smile. 

II. That the great inquietude of the Duke arises 
from not knowing whether we are or are not Aus- 

*I dare not positively afllrm, but I am almost certain that this name 
ought to he spelt Couette-Toury, and that the person meant is the same 
who is mentioned in the second volume (during the conference between 
the author and Baron Reede) as the confidential friend of M. de Calonne. 



266 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

trians, or whether we are merely so undecided on 
the subject that the errors, or the cold distance, of 
the Cabinet of Berlin will be sufficient to induce us, 
at the hazard of all that can happen, to second the 
Emperor in his designs against Germany. In my 
opinion, were the Duke freed from his apprehensions 
on this very capital article, he would be French, for 
he is strongly German, and the English can only set 
Germany in flames ; we alone have the power of 
maintaining it in peace. Should his connections 
with England appear to be strengthened, it is but, as 
I think, because he distrusts the destiny of Prussia, 
for he well knows that his English calculations are 
rather specious than solid, and that the Prussian, 
though perhaps somewhat more subaltern, are much 
less hazardous. 

III. He and his Minister have so often demanded, 
and redemanded, on what basis I imagined the pacifi- 
cation of Holland might be established, that I have 
supposed the Duke probably thinks, should we ex- 
clude the Prince of Prussia from the Nassau alliance, 
there might be a necessity of choosing his daughter, 
the Princess Caroline of Brunswick, as a consort for 
the Prussian heir. The supposition is founded on 
circumstances so fugitive that it is impossible to give 
them written evidence, or perhaps probable, especi- 
ally because, not having received any instructions on 
such a subject, I have not dared to make any ad- 



♦ THE COURT OF BERLIN. 267 

vances. I therefore only give it for what it is worth. 
The being but little informed of the affairs of Hol- 
land has, in every respect, been highly injurious to 
me on this occasion. Might I have spoken more 
freely, I might even have drawn the well dry. The 
only positive proposal which he made on the subject 
was a kind of coalition-council of regency, without 
which the Stadtholder could effect nothing, and in 
which should be included Gislaer, Vanberckel, etc., 
etc., but among whom also must be seated M. Van 
Lynden, the governor of the children of the Stadt- 
holder, etc., etc. To my eternal objection, " How 
will you support those measures which shall be taken 
under the pledge of your aid ? " he continually re- 
plied : " Should the Stadtholder counteract these ar- 
rangements, we will abandon him." " But how far?" 
I replied. " And, if but amicably, how will he be 
injured, should he be thus abandoned ? " In a word, 
I continued, with a kind of mysterious obstinacy, to 
maintain that the Stadtholder would never be brought 
to reason, unless it should be declared to him that 
the King of Prussia would forsake his party, though 
his consort might be secretly informed such was not 
the real intent. 

TV. It appeared to me that the Duke was rumi- 
nating on some grand project for the reconstruction 
of the Germanic edifice, for this able Prince perceives 
the antique, ruinous building must be propped in 



268 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

order to be preserved, and even in many parts re- 
paired. The sole wish which he clearly testified was 
the separation of the electorate of Hanover from the 
English Monarchy, and the secularisation of certain 
provinces, which might one day form an equivalent 
for Saxony. He supposes the first point might be 
gained, and even without any great difficulty, should 
our politics become Anglicised, and that the second 
might be accomplished, though contrary to the con- 
federation of the Princes, because, at the death of 
the Elector of Mayence, there will be an opportunity 
of retouching the league, as well as a natural and 
proper occasion of coming to an explanation with 
the ecclesiastical Princes, who, more interested than 
any others in the liberties of Germany, are always 
the first to tergiversate, etc., etc. Hence, we at least 
may learn that, however attached he may appear to 
be to the confederation, means may be found of induc- 
ing him to listen to reason concerning modifications. 
The instructions which are necessary for me, at 
present, are : 

I. Whether we ought, on this occasion, to bring 
him on the stage, which would be the real means of 
driving him from it ; and I certainly do not think the 
latter to be our interest, for he is more prudent, more 
able, and less susceptible of prejudice and passion, 
than any other who can be made Minister. 

II. Whether his party ought to be encouraged 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 269 

and strengthened, which will be to act directly con- 
trary to the party of Prince Henry ; for the plan of 
the Duke is exclusive ; and, to confess the truth, he 
appears tacitly so convinced that the Prince can effect 
nothing, that he has greatly fortified my own opinion 
on this subject. 

III. What is the degree of confidence I ought to 
place in him ? For it is impossible to obtain the con- 
fidence of, without placing confidence in, such a man ; 
and in my apprehension he had better be told than 
suffered to divine. 

Count Finckenstein is recovering. 

The King arrived on the eighteenth, at eight in the 
morning, after having left Breslau, on the seven- 
teenth, at seven in the morning. This was incredible 
diligence ; no person could keep pace with him. He 
went on the same day to visit the Queen Dowager, 
and thus gave occasion to attribute the rapidity and 
danger of the journey to Mademoiselle Voss. She is 
said to be pregnant ; but, in the first place, this cannot 
be known, and, in the second, I do not believe the 
haste would have been so great, had it been truth. 
According to report, she has demanded two hundred 
thousand crowns. Should this be so, the circle of 
her career will not be very ample. 

The King made a multitude of nobles in Silesia, 
as elsewhere. But, without loading my letter, the 
Gazettes will tell jou enough of their names. He is 



270 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

to remain a week at Potsdam, which is to be dedi- 
cated to his military labours. Great changes in the 
army are spoken of, such as will be favourable to the 
subalterns, and the reverse to the captains. 

The Dantzickers, who, according to appearances, 
supposed Kings were hobgoblins, were so enraptured 
to meet with one who did not eat their children that, 
in the excess of their enthusiasm, they were willing 
to put themselves without restraint under the Prus- 
sian Government. The Magistrates eluded the folly 
of the populace as well as they could, under the pre- 
tence that Dantzic was dependent on Poland ; but so 
great and so violent was the tumult, that Prussian 
and Polish couriers were sent off. This event will no 
doubt rouse the Emperor and Russia; a favourable 
circumstance to our affairs in Holland. 

Count Hertzberg, who has indulged himself in very 
headlong acts in Silesia, and particularly in his dis- 
course on the day of homage, in which he really 
braved the Emperor in a very indecent manner, as if 
it was not in his nature to accommodate himself to a 
peaceable order of affairs ; Hertzberg, I say, has had 
the influence to retard the nomination of Alvensleben 
for the French embassy, which had been announced 
by the King at supper. How might I have expected 
to be thus deceived, since, when I sent you the intelli- 
gence, I supposed it to be an affair so public that I 
did not even write it in a cipher ? 



LETTER XXXIX. 

October 24th, 1786. 

I SHALL begin my despatch with an anecdote, the 
truth of which is undoubted, and which appears to 
me the most decisive of all I have learnt concerning 
the new reign. Recollect that, in Number XVIII., 
August 29th, I wrote : 

"The King apparently intends to renounce all his 
old habits. This is a proud undertaking. He retires 
before ten in the evening, and rises at four. Should 
he persevere, he will afford a singular example of 
habits of thirty years being vanquished. This will be 
an indubitable proof of a grand character, and shew 
how we have all been mistaken." 

When I spoke thus, I, like the rest of the world, 
judged by appearances. The truth is that at half 
after nine the King disappeared, and was supposed to 
be gone to rest ; whereas, in the most retired apart- 
ments of the palace, like another Sardanapalus, he 
held his orgies till night was far advanced. Hence 
it is easy to understand why hours of business were 
obliged to be inverted. Health would not allow him 

271 



272 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

to be equally active upon the stage and behind the 
scenes. 

Prince Henry regards himself as kept at a distance 
as well from system as from inclination. He is, or 
believes himself to be, persuaded that the innumerable 
follies which will result from his absence, for in his 
opinion the country without his aid is undone, will 
occasion recourse to be had to his experience and his 
abilities, and he then intends to refuse that tardy suc- 
cour which his genius will be implored to yield. Even 
granting him the truth of all these vain dreams, he 
does not recollect that the expression of an undone 
country is only true relative to a certain lapse of 
time, and that, therefore, in all probability, he will be 
dead before the want of his assistance will be per- 
ceived. He comes to reside four months at Berlin, 
there, according to him, to suffer martyrdom, that it 
may not be supposed he has deserted the public cause. 
His places of asylum are afterward to be Rheinsberg, 
the Lake of Geneva, and France ; but such he will 
easily find everywhere. Consolation will not be 
wanting to him, since consolation can be found at 
playing at blind man's buff, or hot -cockles, with 
actresses more insipid than the very worst of our 
provincial companies can afford. 

The distribution of influence continues the same. 
Hertzberg violently seizes on the King, who probably 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 273 

has more esteem for Count Finckenstein ; but whom, 
not being so eternally hunted by him, he leaves in a 
subaltern degree of credit, which from apparent may 
become real, the easy temper of the master consid- 
ered. The remaining Ministers are held to be so 
many ciphers. 

Welner daily increases his jurisdiction, and Bishops- 
werder his influence, but he does not appear to exer- 
cise this influence either as a man of ostentation or a 
dupe. He neither asks for titles, ribands, nor places. 
At most he will but make Ministers ; he will never be 
one. Three hundred thousand livres for each of his 
daughters, an excellent fief for himself, with military 
rank (he is said to be a good officer), these are what 
he wishes, and these he most probably ivill obtain. 
In the meantime no person has anything ; neither he 
nor Welner nor Goertz, who lives by borrowing. 

Bowlet ? — The influence of a mason-engineer, and 
no other; for of no other is he capable. 

Goltz the Tartar ? — Artful, sly, dexterous ; per- 
haps ambitious, but very selfish and covetous. Money 
is his ruling passion, and money he will have. He 
will probably have the greatest influence over mili- 
tary affairs, unless the Duke of Brunswick should 
take them to himself. The memorials relative to 
fortification are transmitted to him. 

Colonel Wartensleben is evidently kept at a dis- 
tance, and probably because of his family connections 



274 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

with Prince Henry; who, to all his other disadvan- 
tages, adds that of having every person who is about 
the King for his enemy. 

Subalterns ? — Their kingdom is not come. It 
should seem that having long, while Prince of Prus- 
sia, been deceived by them, the King knows and 
recollects this ; although from compassion he wishes 
not to notice it, at least for a time. 

The master ? — What is he ? I persist in believ- 
ing it would be rash, at present, to pronounce, though 
one might be strongly tempted to reply King Log. 
No understanding, no fortitude, no consistency, no 
industry ; in his pleasures the Hog of Epicurus * and 
the hero only of pride ; which, perhaps, we should 
rather denominate confined and vulgar vanity. Such 
hitherto have the symptoms been. And under what 
circumstances, in what an age, and at what a post ? 
I am obliged to summon all my reason to divine, and 
to forget it all again to hope. The thing which is 
really to be feared is lest the universal contempt he 
must soon incur should irritate him, and deprive him 
of that species of benevolence of which he shews 
signs. That weakness is very formidable which 
unites an ardent thirst after pleasures, destitute of 
choice or delicacy, with the desire of keeping them 
secret in a situation where nothing can be kept 
secret. 

* Epicuri de grege ponmrn. — Hob. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 275 

Not that I here am writing a second part to 
Madame de S^vign^ ; I do not speak ill of Frederick- 
William because he overlooks me, as she spoke well 
of Louis XIV., because he had lately danced a 
minuet with her. 

Yesterday, at the Court of the Queen, he three 
times addressed himself to me, which he never before 
did in public. " You have been at Magdeburg and 
Brunswick." " Yes, Sire." " Were you pleased with 
the manoeuvres ? " " Sire, I was in admiration." 
" I ask to be informed of the truth, and not to be 
complimented." " In my opinion. Sire, there was 
nothing wanting to complete the splendour of this 
exhibition, except the presence of Your Majesty." 
" Is the Duke in good health ?" " Exceedingly good, 
Sire." " Will he be here soon ? " " Your Majesty, I 
imagine, is the only person who knows." He smiled. 

This is a specimen. You will well imagine it was, 
personally, very indifferent to me what he should say 
to me before the whole Court, but it was not so to 
the audience ; and I note this as having appeared 
to make a part of the arranged reparation to France, 
which reparation was as follows. (From this, 
imagine the wit of the Court of Berlin ; for I am 
convinced there was a real desire of giving satisfac- 
tion to Comte d' Esterno.) 

First, it was determined the Queen should have a 
Lotto, and not a private party, in order that the 



276 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

company at her table might be the more numerous. 
After all the Princesses, Prince Henry, Prince Fred- 
erick of Brunswick, and the Prince of Holsteinbeck, 
had been invited, and taken their places. Mademoi- 
selle Bishopswerder, the Maid of Honour who regu- 
lated the party, named Comte d' Esterno. The Queen 
then, perceiving Lord Dalrymple, beckoned him, and 
at the same moment desired him to sit down. The 
Ambassadors of France and England were the only 
Foreign Ministers that were of the party, so that 
Princes Reuss and Romanzow were now excluded, 
as they before had appeared to have been favoured. 
It would be difficult to imagine anything more awk- 
ward, or more inconsistent; and this increases my 
regret at remembering that Comte d' Esterno thought 
himself obliged to take offence on the first Court-day 
of the Queen ; for, after the absurdity of yesterday, I 
can see no possible hope of reparation which would 
not be slovenly daubing. 

I am certain, however, that, far from wishing to 
wound, they were desirous to heal ; and, to treat the 
subject less petitely, I am persuaded it is wrong to 
aifirm the King hates the French. He hates noth- 
ing ; he scarcely loves anything. He has been told 
that he must become wholly German, in order to 
pursue a new and glorious track, and he descends 
to the level of his nation, instead of desiring to ele- 
vate his nation superior to himself. His conduct is 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 277 

the result of the narrowness of his views. If he 
have a cordial dislike to anything, it is to men of 
wit ; because he imagines that, in their company, it 
is absolutely requisite he should hear wit, and be 
himself a wit. He despairs of the one, and therefore 
hates the other. He has not yet learnt that men of 
wit only are the people who can appear not to possess 
wit. He seems to have made a determination to 
treat all persons in an amicable manner, without 
haughtiness or threat. The Stadtholder always re- 
ceives two very different accounts from Berlin, and 
does not fail to believe that which flatters his ruling 
passion. 

A mile from this place some very secret experi- 
ments are making on the artillery, which are confided 
to Major Tempelhoff. A small number of superior 
officers are admitted ; captains are excluded. The 
ground is covered by tents, and guarded by senti- 
nels, night and day. I shall endeavour to learn the 
particulars. 

I forgot to write you word, from Brunswick, that 
the Duchess informed me the Prince of Wales was 
consulting the most able civilians in Europe, to learn 
whether, by marrying a Catholic, the positive laws of 
England, the laws of any other nation, or the maxims 
of the civil laws of Europe, would disinherit an heir, 
and particularly an Heir -Apparent. There appears 
to be much imprudence in this appeal of an Heir- 



278 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

Apparent from the opinions of Great Britain to those 
of the civilians. 

An anecdote less important, but perhaps more 
poignant, is that the Margrave of Baden-Baden has 
sent M. von Edelsheim here as his complimentary- 
envoy, the brother of one of his Ministers who is 
called the Choiseul of Carlsruhe. The following is 
the history of this complimentor, who has arrived 
long after all the others. 

At a time when the prolific virtues of the father 
of the five royal children were held in doubt, there 
was a wish to bestow a lover on a lady (the after- 
wards divorced Queen, banished to Stettin), who, 
had they not done so, would have made bold to have 
bestowed one on herself. The care of choosing was 
committed to the brothers of the Duke of Brunswick. 
They descended a little too low, and in consequence 
an eye was cast on Edelsheim, who was publicly 
enough charged with this great work. He was after- 
wards sent to Paris to execute another commission,* 



* Frederick II., dreading the tediousness of the proposed Congress at 
Augsburg, wished to send a private emissary to sound the Court of 
France. For this purpose he chose Edelsheim, as a person, according to 
the King's account, least liable to suspicion. The project of Frederick 
was to indemnify the King of Poland by robbing the ecclesiastical 
Princes of Germany. This the pious Louis iv. rejected. Edelsheim 
returned with his answer to Frederick at Freyberg, whence he after- 
wards departed for London, made his communications, and was once 
again sent back to Paris, on pretence that he had left some of his travel- 
ling trunks there; and the Bailli de Froulay, the Ambassador of the 
Knights of Malta, being persuaded the French were effectually desirous 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 279 

of which he acquitted himself ill. I have been as- 
sured he was thrown into the Bastille. On his 
return he was disgraced, but afterwards employed, 
and sent to various Courts of Germany in 1778. And 
this is the man whom, in his high wisdom, the Mar- 
grave selected for his envoy to the King of Prussia. 
The Monarch himself, when he saw him, could not 
forbear laughing. 

PosTSCEiPT. — Yesterday, at eleven in the morning, 
the King, hid in a grey coach, went alone to Mon- 
Bijou, where he remained an hour, whence he re- 
turned in a great glow. What does this mean ? Is 
this the triumph of the Lady Voss ? It is impossible 
at present to know. Neither has anything transpired 
concerning the letters which M. von Calenberg has 
brought from the Stadtholder. 

Muller and Landsberg, private secretaries of the 
Cabinet, demanded their dismission with considerable 
chagrin, their services not being apparently neces- 
sary, said they, since they were not thought worthy 
of being instructed concerning the answers they had 
to return, and since the letters were sent ready com- 
posed to the King. They remain in their places, and 

of peace, was, as he had been before, the mediator. The Bailli was de- 
ceived. The Duo de Choiseul, indecently enough, threw Edelsheim into 
the Bastille in order to search his papers, which, however, Edelsheim had 
taken care to secure. The emissary was released on the morrow, but 
obliged to depart the kingdom, by the way of Turin. Such is the story as 
related by the King, in Chapter XI. of the Seven Years' War. 



280 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

the accommodation was effected by Bishopswerder. 
It appears that he is in league with Welner against 
Hertzberg, which he does not take any great pre- 
cautions to conceal. The King will not go to Pots- 
dam to make the military arrangements before Friday, 
in order, as it is supposed, to give the Duke time 
to arrive. The attempting to account for all the ca- 
prices of Kings is a strange kind of frenzy. 



LETTER XL. 

October 28th, 1786. 

I PASSED yesterday evening with Prince Henry. 
The King had dedicated almost the whole afternoon 
of the day before to this palace, for, after having 
been with the Prince, he visited the Princess, where 
he played, and drank tea with Mademoiselle Toss, 
among other Ladies of Honour. This kind of recon- 
ciliation with the Prince (which, however, is nothing 
more than a simple act of courtesy, as is evident 
from the succeeding visit to the Princess, whom the 
Prince regards as his most cruel enemy), this recon- 
ciliation (which is nearly an accurate phrase, for the 
coolness between them was very great) appears to be 
the political work of Welner, who wishes, in his 
struggle against Hertzberg, if not the support, at 
least the neutrality of the Prince ; and the hatred of 
this feeble mortal is so blind in effect that, united 
with the hopes of his ambition, of which he is not 
easy to be cured, it was sufficient to induce him once 
more meanly to offer his services to the King, con- 
sequently to cast himself, if possible, to a greater 
distance. Not that he himself places any great de- 

281 



282 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

pendence on this type of peace, which is the more 
suspicious because it happened on the eve of a suc- 
ceeding fortnight's absence, after which it will not be 
difficult to find pretences not to meet again for some 
time longer, should the King think proper. But the 
Prince imagines his enemy dead, and he enjoys him- 
self, and chuckles like a child, without recollecting 
that this is the very way to promote his resurrec- 
tion. 

In reality, Count Hertzberg appears to have cast 
his own die. He had a tolerable run of ill-luck in 
Silesia, — abrupt disputes, contradictions, the chagrin 
of seeing the name of the brother of his former mis- 
tress struck off from the list of Counts; he ought, 
even while in Prussia, to have perceived that his 
sounding speeches gave no pleasure. On the day of 
receiving homage, he read over the names of the 
Counts, and when he came to his own stopped, that 
the King, seated on his throne, might pronounce it 
himself, and the Monarch was malicious enough to 
remain silent, so that the inauguration of Count 
Hertzberg did not take place till the day after, and in 
the ante-chamber. 

But what probably has occasioned his downfall, if 
fallen he has, was his haughty behaviour to "Welner, 
the least forgetful of men, and who, amid his ambi- 
tious projects, needed no such cause of rancour to 
occasion him to hate and injure the Minister. Hertz- 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 283 

berg has made him wait for hours in his ante- 
chamber, has received and kept him standing, spoken 
to him but a very short time, and dismissed him with 
airs which are only proper to give offence. Welner 
vowed his destruction, and he is seconded by Bishops- 
werder. 

Such at least are probabilities, according to every 
acceptation of the word influence ; and I should have 
divined them to-day from the very politeness of 
Hertzberg. He gave a grand dinner to foreigners, 
among whom, for once, Comte d' Esterno and myself 
were invited. His attention seemed all directed to 
us. Such proceedings are awkward and mean. This 
mixture of stiffness and twining is a strange singu- 
larity by which half -formed characters ruin them- 
selves. Machiavel rightly affirms that " all the evil 
in the world originates in not being sufficiently good, 
or sufficiently wicked." Whether my conjectures are 
or are not true, still it is certain Count Hertzberg 
has been very dryly and positively forbidden all inter- 
ference, direct or indirect, in the affairs of Holland, 
from which country Callenberg does not appear to 
have brought any remarkable intelligence. He is 
really come to obtain admission into the Prussian 
service, and his letters were only recommendatory. 

It is not the influence of Hertzberg that prevents 
the recall of Thulemeyer, but that of Count Fincken- 
stein. The mother of the envoy has had a lasting 



284 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

and tender friendship for the Count ; and indeed it 
was her husband who procured the Count a place in 
the Ministry. In fact, it appears to me to be a 
matter of little moment, for the present, whether 
Thulemeyer should or should not be recalled. His 
embassy ended on the arrival of Goertz, nor do I 
believe he sends any despatches. 

The destiny of Launay was decided the day before 
yesterday by a very severe letter. He is no longer 
allowed to act, and they offer him a pension of only 
two thousand crowns to retire on, with the proviso 
that he shall remain in the Prussian States. It must 
be owned his estimate* is a chef-d'oeuvre of egotism 
and folly, and that he might be completely refuted ; 
although the memorial of the commissioners who 
have undertaken his refutation is a pitable perform- 
ance. He has proved two facts, the one of which is 
curious, and the other decisive against his own admin- 
istration. First, that, in the space of nineteen years, 
he has brought into the King's coffers a surplus of 
42,689,000 crowns of the empire, exclusive of the 
fixed revenue, which annually amounted to five mil- 
lions of crowns. What dreadful oppression! The 
second, that the collecting of the customs is an 
annual expense of more than 1,400,000 crowns, 
which, on a first view of the business to be trans- 
acted, and of local circumstances, might at least be 

* Compte rendu. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 285 

reduced two-thirds. But not one man is at this 
moment employed who appears to understand the 
elements of his profession. It is a fact that they 
have not yet been able to make any general statement 
of debtor and creditor, nor to class any single branch 
of the revenue ; so that there is not one object, not 
even the King's dinner, which is yet regulated. 

This is a chaos, but it is a chaos at rest. Finance, 
military and civil, are each alike in a state of stagna- 
tion ; and such a state in general would indeed be 
better than the rage of governing too much, in a 
country with a fixed constitution, in which individual 
prudence might preponderate over public folly. But 
men are here so accustomed to see their King active, 
or rather exclusively active ; they are so little in the 
habit of doing what he leaves undone, though, having 
once issued his orders, they very well understand the 
art of deceiving him ; they even think so little of lay- 
ing any proposals before him, that the stagnation is a 
real clog on the machine. But how injm-ious may 
this clog become in a kingdom which rests on so 
brittle a basis, though inhabited, indeed, by a people 
so tardy, so heavy, so unimpassioned, that it is 
scarcely possible a sudden shock should happen ? 
The vessel, however, must continue to sink, more or 
less sensibly, if some pilot does not come on board, 
although she will not suddenly founder. 

Wait we must: it would be an act of temerity to 



286 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

attempt to look into this darkness visible. I repeat, 
we must wait before we can know whether the King 
will, or will not, have the courage to take a Prime 
Minister. Such an appointment would be equal to a 
revolution ; and, well or ill, would change the whole 
face of affairs. 

The Duke of Brunswick is the person who ought to 
be narrowly watched, if we wish to foretell the fate of 
this Government ; although he should not be the per- 
son appointed, and should there be any appearance of 
a shipwreck. This Prince is only fifty, and is indis- 
putably ambitious. Should he ever resolve on haz- 
ardous and daring designs, and should he no longer 
depend on Prussia, he would shake all the German 
combinations as the north wind shakes the reed. 
His manners and his prudence are incompatible with 
the English party. Neither can England act on the 
Continent, except accidentally. But I can imagine 
circumstances under which I think him capable of 
going over to the Emperor, who would receive him 
with open arms. And what might not the Duke 
of Brunswick perform at the head of the Austrian 
army ? How great would be the danger of Germany ! 
How vast a prospect for him whose passions might 
be unbridled, should he be obliged to act a desperate 
part ; for he almost hates his sons, unless it be his 
youngest, who promises not to be so stupid as the 
others. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 287 

The best manner of securing him has been missed, 
which would have been to place him unconditionally 
at the head of the Germanic Confederation. Should 
he desert it, I greatly fear he will be its destroyer. 

Baron H is arrived, and has not been received 

by the King in a manner equal to his expectations. 
A certain musical demoniac, named Baron Bagge, is 
also at Berlin.* I imagine they are all in too much 
haste. The King is in the high fervour of the Ger- 
man system, and anxious to have it known that the 
ship is to be differently trimmed. Since his acces- 
sion, the banker of La Valmour has received orders 
to send in his account, that it may be discharged, and 
to stop all future payments to that girl who had 
formerly so much power over him. It is said he is to 
return from Potsdam on the third, and I imagine it 
will be found that he goes there to the chase. The 
Prince of Dessau is to arrive there to-morrow evening, 
and I have no doubt there is to be a calling of the 
faithful, t 

* This Baron is a very pleasant gentleman, at least to the mnsical 
■world. He performs on the violin, but so vilely, and with such ridiculous 
vanity, that there is not a great city in Europe in which he is not 
mimicked by the musicians ; who, however, take good care to flatter him, 
and to serve whom he devotes his time and his income. His usual resi- 
dence is in Paris, where he keeps open house for all who can hold a 
fiddle, and does not scruple, there and elsewhere, to invite the men who 
have gained most reputation in the practice of their art to take lessons of 
him and acquire absolute perfection. 

t Evocation d' Qmet. 



LETTER XLI. 

October 30th, 1786. 

At the request of Struensee, I have sent him the 
following information. First, on the possibility of 
public loans to France, and, secondly, on the treaty of 
commerce, and on the manner of placing money in 
the French funds. 

There are two species of public funds in France : 
those the interest of which is fixed and certain, and 
which does not vary with circumstances ; and those 
which produce dividends, or a participation of gain, 
subject to vicissitudes and to rise or fall. 

The public and favoured companies principally 
appertain to this last class, — such as the Caisse 
d' Escompte, the Paris water-works, and French East 
India Company ; the prices of stock in which have 
successively, or all together, been agitated by every 
frenzy of stock -jobbing. All true estimate of their 
real value and their effective gains has been as it 
were lost, that men might yield to the rage of gam- 
bling in funds which never could be reduced to any 
exact valuation. These jobbers have been less occu- 
pied by endeavours to reduce the price of shares to 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 289 

their true value than artfully to affect their price, by 
disputes and pretended reasonings on the impossi- 
bility of delivering all the shares that had been sold. 
Monopoly has succeeded to monopoly, association to 
association ; some to raise, others to lower the price ; 
to effect which every imaginary species of deceit, 
cabal, and cunning has been practised ; and, though 
this gambling mania has not continued more than 
two years, many people have already been ruined, and 
many others dishonoured, by taking shelter under the 
laws to elude their engagements. 

The other species of public funds, and the only 
one perhaps which merits the name, consists in con- 
tracts, and royal effects, properly so called. The 
contracts yield an interest of from five and a half to 
six per cent, at the utmost. One only fund, the 
stock of which is paid at sight, is more productive. 
This is the loan of one hundred and twenty-five mil- 
lions. Shares are sold, at present, at an advance of 
but two per cent., although there are nine months* 
interest due, and the real interest amounts to nearly 
seven per cent. The stock cannot remain long at 
this price, and, whether the purchasers wish to be 
ijermanent stockholders, or only to speculate for 
some months, this loan merits a preference to any 
other. Its advantages annually increase, since, while 
receiving a uniform interest of five per cent., a part 
of the capital is to be periodically repaid. In Janu- 



290 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

ary, 1787 and 1788, these reimbursements are to be 
made at the rate of fifteen per cent, on the capital 
advanced. They are afterwards to proceed to pay 
off twenty per cent., and, at intervals of three years 
to twenty -five, thirty, thirty -five, forty, forty -five, 
fifty per cent., till, in the last year, the whole will be 
repaid, independent of the interest of five per cent, 
to, and including, the years of reimbursement, the 
last year of payment only excepted. The stock- 
holders may either have bills payable at sight, ac- 
cording to the original plan, or, if they please, may 
receive contracts in their stead, without any change 
taking place in the order of reimbursement. 

Those who buy in with a design of remaining 
stockholders, must prefer contracts, because these 
are liable neither to be stolen, burnt nor destroyed. 
Those who purchase stock on speculation, intending 
to sell out, should rather receive bills, because the 
transfer would then be subject to none of the delays 
of office. 

We ought to regard the public loans of France as 
at an end, all the debts of the war being paid, so 
that if any loans henceforth should take place, they 
can probably be only for small sums * to pay off the 
annual reimbursements with which the finances will, 
for five or six years to come, be burdened. But 

*The world at that time was ignorant of, nor could it divine, the sub- 
lime invention of gradual and successive loans. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 291 

these loans can only offer trifling advantages to the 
moneyed men. The rate of interest must have a 
natural tendency to fall, because of the general pros- 
perity of the kingdom, and, consequently, the loan of 
one hundred and twenty -five millions presents the 
probability of rising in price, which rise is each day 
liable to take place, and which variation cannot be 
profited by, unless stock is immediately purchased. 
This probability might even be called a certainty, 
when, on the one part, we recollect the nature of the 
loan, which is the most wise, solid and advantageous 
to the moneyed men, and in every respect the best 
that has ever been imagined ; and, on the other, the 
concurrence of circumstances, which, all uniting, 
lead us to presume that the credit of France, and 
the public confidence in its royal effects, must daily 
increase. 

On the Commeecial Treaty. 

It appears that the Treaty of Commerce is highly 
acceptable to both parties. The English perceive in 
it a vast market for their woollen cloths, wrought 
cottons, and hardware ; we depend on the great ex- 
portation of our wines, linens, and cambrics, and 
probably both nations are right, but under certain 
modifications, the value of which can only be taught 
by time. 



292 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

The treaty, in general, seems to have held a prin- 
ciple as sacred which has too often been misunder- 
stood, which is, that moderate duties are the sole 
means of preserving the revenue, and preventing 
illicit trade. Thus the English merchandise is rated 
at from ten to twelve per cent. Should the advan- 
tage for some years appear to be wholly on the side 
of the English, still it is evident the French trade 
will gain ground, since nothing can prevent our 
manufacturers gradually imitating the products of 
English industry, whereas, Nature having refused 
soil and climate to England, our wines cannot be 
made there, and, in this respect, the English must 
always depend on us. 

True it is that the wines of Portugal will continue 
to be drunk in England in great quantities, but the 
rising generation will prefer the wines of France. 
Of this, Ireland affords a proof, in which ten times 
the quantities of French wines are drunk in compari- 
son with the wines of Portugal. The French wines, 
henceforth, are only to pay duties equivalent to those 
which the wines of Portugal at present pay in Eng- 
land, that is to say, forty pounds sterling per ton, or 
about one shilling per bottle. Our wines of Medoc 
may there be sold cheap, and will be preferred to the 
wines of Portugal. The English, it is true, are al- 
lowed to lower the present duties on the wines of 
Portugal, but they will fear to diminish them too 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 293 

sensibly, lest they should injure the revenue arising 
from their beer, which is the most essential of their 
excise duties, and annually produces more than 
1,800,000 pounds sterling. 

The treaty, in fact, will incontestably be advan- 
tageous to both countries. It will procure an in- 
crease of enjoyment to the people, and of revenue to 
their respective Monarchs. Its tendency is to render 
the English and French more friendly, and in general 
it is founded on those liberal principles which are 
worthy two such great nations, and of which France 
ought to be the first to give an example, since, of all 
countries on earth, it would, from its natural advan- 
tages, be the greatest gainer, should such principles 
be universally established in the commercial world. 



LETTER XLII. 

October 31st, 1786. 

m * * * * * 

They have also affirmed (that is, Prince Ferdi- 
nand has) that it was I who refuted the estimate * 
of Launay. From that moment I have daily left my 
card at the house of Launay, and have declared that 
to torment people seemed to me to be a thing so 
unnecessary that, exclusive of the cowardice of wan- 
tonly striking a man under misfortunes, none but a 
fool could have invented so silly and malicious a tale. 

On the reply to the refutation of his estimate, 
Launay received so severe a letter that he immedi- 
ately demanded permission to retire. The King 
answered this should be granted him, when the com- 
mission should have no more need of his assistance. 

It is loudly rumoured here, after having been long 
whispered, that a treaty is concerting between Russia, 
Austria, and Prussia; the pretext for which is the 
pacification of Holland. I own that at present I do 
not see the least probability of truth in the report. 
Neither the King, nor any one of his Ministers, ap- 

* Compte rendu. 
294 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 295 

pears to me to have an understanding sufficiently 
enlarged for such a project. Not but we most as- 
suredly ought to pay very serious attention to the 
rumour. 

As I was finishing my phrase, I received informa- 
tion that Doctor Roggerson, the favourite physician 
of the Czarina, the same whom she sent to Vienna, 
and of whom I spoke to you in my former des- 
patches, is just arrived. Now or never is the time 
for an eye war ; but this kind of tilting can be per- 
formed only by Ambassadors ; they alone possess the 
means, were we to exclude every other except the all- 
puissance of supper parties, which are the very sieves 
of secrets. 

Roggerson returns from England by way of Am- 
sterdam, and Berlin is directly in his road. Still, I 
repeat, we ought watchfully to observe Vienna and 
Petersburg, — convinced as I am at present that the 
Emperor is only spreading nets for this country. I 
must further add that I imagine I very clearly per- 
ceive the Gallomania of Prince Henry is on the 
decline. But this to him will be of no advantage, 
for it is to oppose the Prince that they are Anti- 
Gallican here. It is not to oppose the French that 
he is opposed. Prince Henry is turbulent, false, and 
perfidious. He formerly was successful at Peters- 
burg. He may flatter himself that, should there be 
any need of that Court, he may be employed; and 



296 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

never will there be a better resemblance of the moral- 
ity of the late Erostratus.* 

The Duke of Brunswick arrived on Saturday at 
Potsdam. This is a kind of secret at Berlin. Noth- 
ing had been done on Sunday, except listening to 
music and looking at reviews ; but two couriers were 
certainly sent off, from the Sunday to the Tuesday. 
I know nothing more. I am in want of pecuniary 
and other aid. The domestic disorder is a thing so 
inconvenient, some of the favourites are so interested 
to put an end to it, or to certain parts of it, since 
they have not a sixpence, and it is carried to such 
excess in the palace, that I cannot help supposing 
there is some grand object which employs the whole 
attention of the King, and the few moments he can 
prevail on himself to dedicate to business. 

There has been a quarrel in the household, in 
which the master has committed some violence on 
himself. One of his favourite ushers, Rumpel, a man 
naturally very insolent, insomuch that at a review he 
once struck a gentleman without any serious notice 
being taken of the affair, has had a very passionate 
brawl with Lindenau, the new first usher, who is a 
Saxon, and the friend of Bishopswerder, who pro- 
cured him the place. Lindenau put the insolent 



* Meaning the late King, who fired not only temples, but would have 
willingly extended the conflagration to the universe, could he have 
thrown on the oil without being scorched by the gust of the flames. 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 29V 

favourite under arrest, and gave an account of his 
proceeding to the King. The Monarch started with 
astonishment ; but, after a momentary silence, he not 
only approved of the act of Lindenau, but confirmed 
the arrest in a very cool manner, and for an indefi- 
nite term. By this he has given some energy to the 
head servants, and somewhat tempered the insolence 
of the subalterns. 

Discord, on the other hand, reigns among the fa- 
vourites. Goltz and Bishopswerder had a very seri- 
ous dispute in Silesia. The King, having made some 
new appointments, in favour of I know not whom, 
Goltz kept so cool a silence that the King insisted 
on knowing the reason of this tacit disapprobation. 
Goltz replied : " Your Majesty is overflowing the land 
with Saxons, as if you had not a subject of your 
own." Bishopswerder came in, a few moments after- 
wards, and proposed another Saxon, on which the 
King very abruptly exclaimed, " Zounds ! you never 
propose anybody but Saxons." Probably, in the ex- 
planation which succeeded this pettishness, the King 
told what Goltz had said. Certain it is that Bishops- 
werder and Goltz have been very warm. The wall 
is whitewashed over, but we may with good reason 
conclude that Goltz, the Tartar, and Bishopswerder, 
the d^bonnaire, neither do, nor ever will, cordially 
esteem each other. It was the latter who brought 
the insignificant Duke of Holsteinbeck hither, and 



298 SECRET COURT MEMOIRS. 

who is endeavouring to advance him to the command 
of the guards, that he may deprive the former favour- 
ite, Wartensleben, of the place. 

To descend a step lower, it appears that Chauvier 
is regaining credit. He imagined, at the beginning 
of the reign, that the surliness of the secretary would 
promote his interest. It did the reverse. Appar- 
ently he has altered his route, and is in the pandar 
department, submits to subaltern complaisance, and 
even to act the spy, in which he finds his account. 

The King returns on Wednesday, as it is said, to 
depart again on Thursday. I cannot understand 
what this means, unless it should be to keep Prince 
Henry at a distance, without openly quarrelling. The 
Prince will remain ignorant of affairs by not knowing 
where to find the King. The Minister, Blumenthal, 
has rather resolutely demanded his dismission, com- 
plaining that His Majesty, having bedizened some of 
his servants, who were not of so long a standing as 
himself, with ribands, had not bestowed on him that 
mark of honour. His retreat, which is not granted, 
is a matter of little moment ; though it is affirmed the 
King could not be better pleased, for he would then 
have a place to bestow. I have heard, and from a 
good quarter, that this place, or rather a place of 
principal trust, will very soon be given to a remark- 
able man, to the dissatisfaction of everybody. I can 
neither divine who this man is, nor believe the King 



THE COURT OF BERLIN. 299 

has the fortitude to dissatisfy everybody. The credit 
of Hertzberg, if not ruined, is still on the decline. It 
is certain that he has not dined with the King since 
the return from Silesia. 

Welner is at Potsdam. 

Do not suffer your Ambassador to persuade you 
that there is nothing to apprehend from Austria ; I 
am convinced the King is undetermined, that the 
Emperor is sounding him, and that there is something 
in agitation with which we are unacquainted. For 
my own part, nothing would appear less extraordi- 
nary to me. I own I am surprised at all the intel- 
ligence I obtain, however little that may be. But 
nothing can here be kept secret from a French Am- 
bassador, who is in want of neither money nor 
industry. 

I have just been told that General Rodig has sent 
a challenge to Count Goertz. I have not learnt what 
was the cause of quarrel, and the truth of the news 
scarcely appears to be probable ; yet it comes from a 
person who should know, though he is a young man. 

END OF VOL. I.